The former US Navy Officer and since 1981 journalist Ed Offley has been concentrating his books on the history of submarines and their role in the strategic developments during WWII.
With his book " Turning the Tide" (published in April 2011) he focused on the historic changes of the U-Boat-War in the Atlnatik during 1943 and thereby laid the foundations for his present book.
"The Burning Shore" is a tremendouly well researched story about one of Germany's submarines, U 701, and is following its fate until it was sunk by an American bomber plane in July 1942.
Offleys skilfully written book concentrates on both the key figures in this war battle:
On the one hand this is the German U-Boat Commander KapitaenLeutnant Horst Degen, and on the other hand the author follows the American Bomber Pilot Harry Cane and gives a fascinating account of the events of his war-time carreer leading up to the final encounter between the Bomber Plane and the German U-Boat just off the East coast of the United States.
MY role reviewing Offley's book is a special one:
I am the son of the German U-Boat Commander Horst Degen and was born in Germany in 1948
and have been learning first hand from my father the gripping stories about his career as a submarine commander during the war, his time as a POW in America until 1946 and followed his activities dealing with a lot of historians, journalists and other people who were trying to find out his personal wartime history in the German navy.
And that involved the author of this book, Ed Offley, who as a young polical journalist of a small regional newspaper in Virginia, approached my father in the 1980ties and developed a very extensive correspondence with my father regarding his specific experiences with his U-Boat U 701 along the Eastern shorelines in 1942.
The publication of a three-part series article by Offley some thirty years ago impressed my father, who had been very cautious and restrictive with his personal wartime history in the immediate post war decades.
However, the professional and serious research and its well presented journalistic result made my father trusting Offley as a genuine journalist who and writer.
And that is why - another almost thirty years later - Offley got our full support when he started the big project of writing this book more than two years ago.
My father, who had died in 1996 at the age of 83, had left me his comprehensive material of all his documents, correspondence and obviously a substantive personal knowledge of all the details he had been telling me over the years.
All in all, being aware of my father's trusting relatioship with Offley, I decided to fully engage and support the project to put this book about my father and the American bomber pilot together!
And the result now in front of us "The Burning Shore" is a brilliant report of one of the important developments of WWII, when the United States were seriously threatened in their own back yard by a few courageous German submariners in their small "metal tins" crossing the Atlantic and threatening the American East Coast.
Offley not only extended his research deep into the US national Archives in Washington DC, but furthermore travelled extensively with me through Germany, England and France to talk to a great variety of people who had been involved or worked on the multiple strands of the German U-Boat war.
He was very lucky and it gave him an unbelievable first hand experience, when he two years ago met the last living member of the U701 crew, who had survived together with my father and five other sailors the ordeal of being sunk, send to the bottom of the Atlantic, getting out of the U-Boat to the surface and miracuously getting rescued only after swimming for days and nights!
The author's journalistic skills and his concept of this story combined makes this book not only a gripping read, but furthermore reaches a level of quality that puts it in a different league of traditional history books. Facts are immaculately researched, feelings and the emotional levels of the people involved are reflecting what I can assure my father would have seen himself properly presented by Offley's work.
The highlight of this is most probably the description of the two wartime officers, Horst Degen and Harry Cane eventually meeting eachother in Germany in 1982 .
Well done, Ed Offley !!
My father, Horst Degen, the Commander of the German Submarine U 701,
would approve of this account of his own wartime history, I am SURE !
Our family does owe YOU a big THANK YOU, recommends your book and hopes that the post-war generations will learn their lessons and draw their own conclusions.