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The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats

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9780525428152: The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats
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“Vividly drawn and emotionally gripping."
—Daniel James Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat

One of the last unheralded heroic stories of World War II: the U-boat assault off the American coast against the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine who were supplying the European war, and one community’s monumental contribution to that effort


Mathews County, Virginia, is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay with little to offer except unspoiled scenery—but it sent an unusually large concentration of sea captains to fight in World War II. The Mathews Men tells that heroic story through the experiences of one extraordinary family whose seven sons (and their neighbors), U.S. merchant mariners all, suddenly found themselves squarely in the cross-hairs of the U-boats bearing down on the coastal United States in 1942.
            From the late 1930s to 1945, virtually all the fuel, food and munitions that sustained the Allies in Europe traveled not via the Navy but in merchant ships. After Pearl Harbor, those unprotected ships instantly became the U-boats’ prime targets. And they were easy targets—the Navy lacked the inclination or resources to defend them until the beginning of 1943. Hitler was determined that his U-boats should sink every American ship they could find, sometimes within sight of tourist beaches, and to kill as many mariners as possible, in order to frighten their shipmates into staying ashore.
            As the war progressed, men from Mathews sailed the North and South Atlantic, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean, and even the icy Barents Sea in the Arctic Circle, where they braved the dreaded Murmansk Run. Through their experiences we have eyewitnesses to every danger zone, in every kind of ship. Some died horrific deaths. Others fought to survive torpedo explosions, flaming oil slicks, storms, shark attacks, mine blasts, and harrowing lifeboat odysseys—only to ship out again on the next boat as soon as they'd returned to safety.
            The Mathews Men shows us the war far beyond traditional battlefields—often the U.S. merchant mariners’ life-and-death struggles took place just off the U.S. coast—but also takes us to the landing beaches at D-Day and to the Pacific. “When final victory is ours,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower had predicted, “there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the Merchant Marine.” Here, finally, is the heroic story of those merchant seamen, recast as the human story of the men from Mathews.

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Review:
An Amazon Best Book of April 2016: When the United States entered WWII, it was still in the process of building up its naval fleet to take on the enemy at sea. Much of the early burden was placed on the merchant marine, which moved cargo and personnel, essentially unprotected, through the initial period of the war. Author William Geroux has produced a well-constructed and meticulously researched account of the heroics performed and sacrifices endured by the merchant marine, focusing on the Chesapeake Bay county of Mathews, Virginia. As Geroux writes, “For more than 250 years, the profession of choice in Mathews had been sailing merchant ships.” These men, including the Hodges family, which sent seven sons to war, performed an essential but underreported service for the country. If the cover reminds you of Unbroken or The Boys in the Boat, it should. This one deserves to be a best seller. --Chris Schluep
About the Author:
William Geroux wrote for the Richmond Times-Dispatch for twenty-five years. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Associated Press, and various regional magazines. He also has worked for Maersk, the largest container-shipping company in the world.

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9780143109266: The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats

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ISBN 10: 014310926X ISBN 13: 9780143109266
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Book Description Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. One of the indelible images of World War II is of an explosion at sea -- a Y-boat attack, a ship in flames, and an ocean full of men swimming for their lives through oil and debris. THE MATHEWS MEN tells the story of what it was like to be on those ships in an almost unknown epic sea battle that took place just off the coast of America. Its heroes were the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine, celebrated at long last in William Geroux's unforgettable new book. Mathews County, Virginia, is a remote outpost on the Chesapeake Bay with little to offer except unspoiled scenery. Its men had gone to sea for generations, but in 1942, Mathews mariners suddenly found themselves in the cross-hairs of a lethal fleet of U-boats bearing down across the Atlantic. The Germans were determined to sink every American merchant ship they could, to strangle the flow of fuel, arms, and supplies to the Allies. The U.S. Navy initially lacked the inclination and resources to protect the unarmed vessels, and the carnage was staggering. Ships were sometimes torpedoed before the eyes of tourists on American beaches. Nearly every family in tiny Mathews had a personal stake in the U-boat war, and none had a greater one than that of Captain Jesse and Henrietta Hodges and their seven sons. The Hodges family would experience the war in all its horrors and triumphs around the world, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Indian Ocean to the Arctic Circle. Drawing on interviews with the last living Mathews mariners, family records, diaries, letters, and official documents, Geroux describes how men survived torpedo explosions, flaming oil slicks, storms, shark attacks, and harrowing lifeboat odysseys -- only to ship out again as soon as they'd returned to safety. Merchant mariners often died terrible deaths, and suffered a higher casualty rate than any branch of the U.S. military except the Marines -- but were denied veterans benefits for decades. This is a story of valor without glory, of the men who made sure no Allied invasion force was ever thrown back from a beachhead into the sea for want of supplies or weaponry. Merchant mariners landed at D-Day and delivered the crew of the Enola Gay to the Pacific, and when the war was over, it was the Merchant Marine ships that brought the troops home. Geroux evokes in vivid, human detail a war beyond the familiar battlefields and its toll on the families back home. Unrecognized by the government, unheralded in the history books, the achievements and sacrifices of the Merchant Marine have been largely ignored -- until now. Seller Inventory # 000723

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