The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat was published in 1951 and is called “The classic novel of the North Atlantic in World War II.” Monsarrat served in the Royal Navy during WWII, so I’m sure a lot of the book is based on his experiences.

The Cruel Sea is about the British Navy in WWII and how they tried, and in the beginning mostly failed, to protect convoys of merchant ships from German U-boats. It can be pretty horrifying at times, especially the descriptions of how many soldiers and merchant sailors drowned when their ships were torpedoed.

It is a slow-starting book, since a fair amount deals with new ships being fitted and sailors learning new jobs. However, it is quite fascinating in the depiction of sea life during WWII, and how low the survival rate was for any of the sailors. It is not quite as compelling of a read as, say Unbroken, but in that book the focus is on one man, whereas in The Cruel Sea there are many more characters.

The Cruel Sea is a book well worth reading, especially for anyone who enjoys history, topics of WWII, and naval issues.