Review: Das Boot

Das Boot cover

Author: Lothar Gunther Buchheim
Publisher: Cassell
Published: 2013
Pages: 563

I’ve long been interested in history of the early to mid 20th century, particularly in the two world wars that occurred in that time. In the last year I took an elective course at UVic on the history of World War II, which really sparked my interest and started me reading numerous materials on the topic.

I had seen the Das Boot movie previously and enjoyed it. Then one day in a bookstore, I was browsing and hoping to find a particular book. When my eyes passed over Das Boot, I knew I had to get it, since it fits with my interest in that time period.

Numerous events are detailed in the book. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • preparation and departure from La Rochelle
  • wandering for weeks through stormy weather
  • engaging an allied convoy
  • attempting the Gibraltar strait
  • being stuck on the bottom
  • the ending in La Rochelle

The detail is extensive, and at times surprising. Yet it causes an appreciation for the course of events, and for the durability of German hardware of the day. On the flip side, reading and absorbing all the details is time-consuming and requires focus; I don’t consider this book to be light reading.

After I finished the book, I made a point of re-watching the movie. The latter is surprisingly accurate in a lot of ways, though it does leave details out as well. Though that’s the chance that is taken with a book-to-movie adaptation. Overall, it represents the book well.

Conclusion

Das Boot, while a bit dry or tedious at times, is overall an enjoyable read. It covers in extensive detail the life aboard the submarine, the battles, the challenges, and the resulting solutions. It’s a bit of a slog to get through, but I suggest it is worth the effort for anyone with an interest.

If you want the book, it can be found via multiple avenues including Amazon.