The subtitle poses one immediate question - why 1941 when the commerce raiders had their first successes in 1940? The answer is that book actually covers a longer period then the subtitle suggests, and includes two clashes between German raiders and British Armed Merchant Cruisers during 1940 as well as the long period of development on both sides.
The main focus of the book is on the direct confrontations between the German raiders and British and Commonwealth cruisers and armed merchant cruisers, rather than on the overall campaign against the raiders. This is also covered, but with a focus on the battle of wits between German raiders attempting to avoid battle and British commanders attempting to correctly tell the difference between an innocent merchant shop and a potentially lethal raider.
The biggest surprise here is how well the German raiders did against their Allied opponents, often emerging successfully from battles with ships that at least in theory should have outclassed them. The most famous example of this was the duel between the Komoran and HMAS Sydney, which ended with the destruction of both ships, in the case of the Sydneywith all hands.
There is always a danger in this sort of book of distorting events by over-emphasising one element of a much more complex conflict - of concentrating so much on the central clash that the wider context of the struggle is ignored. Forczyk has successfully avoided that trap, including a significant amount of information about other elements of the struggle against the commerce raider, as well as on the design of the various ships involved in the battles described in the text. The result is an interested and well balanced account of a dramatic aspect of the naval conflict during the Second World War.
Design and Development
Statistics and Analysis
Author: Robert Forczyk