Why did I love this book?
“War is hell,” said General William T. Sherman, and thanks to modern inventions, hell can be found in the air, on and under the ground, and in the depths of the ocean. I love Wolfgang Ott’s book because it presents a realistic picture of the latter. Too many World War II submarine books focus on the hunt, the chase, and the escape. All these elements are present in Sharks and Little Fish. However, the novel’s primary focus is on four German Navy cadets and their journey to manhood under the most grueling conditions imaginable.
Ott conveys the stench created by 80 unbathed men, crammed into a metal tube, along with their rotting food and too few toilets. The flickering lights, pinprick high-pressure leaks, groaning hull, and terrified faces under depth charge attack. The hopelessness of crewmembers as allied technological advances spell doom for one U-Boat after another. This novel struck a chord because it humanizes German boys and presents a rarely told side of the story.