Ocean Ablaze

War Reaches the Outer Banks

Non-Fiction - Historical
178 Pages
Reviewed on 08/03/2016
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Robert Reid for Readers' Favorite

Oceans Ablaze: War Reaches the Outer Banks tells the true story of Nazi submarines off the East Coast of the United States during WWII. It chronologically details the Navy's often slow response to the dangers ships faced within the U.S. coastal waters. Ships carrying raw materials and oil needed for the war effort were being systematically torpedoed and sunk close enough to be seen from the shores of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Finally, civilian, Coast Guard, and Navy efforts combined to stem the loss by both locating and sinking the Nazi U-Boats, and convoying ships previously left to sail alone. The Navy was extremely slow to realize the benefits of protecting the shipping routes or of convoying cargo ships and freighters.

I read a lot about World War II history. Oceans Ablaze is the first book I've read that deals specifically with this aspect of the war. Author Carlton Harrell has exhaustively researched and referenced this topic and does a great job with the presentation. Harrell conducted personal interviews with several of those involved and affected. Their accounts bring the horror of the situations home to the reader as you visualize what they are going through. The author also referenced small town newspapers and magazines along with the major sources (such as The New York Times) to show the effect this sustained stress had on the local residents. Local, lower echelon commands are studied and analyzed, as well as the higher level decisions by both the U.S. and the Nazis. If history, and especially WWII history is your interest, I highly recommend Oceans Ablaze.