Iron Coffins is a first hand account of the Second World War by a U-Boat Captain. It is an exceptional book, incredibly detailed and gripping all the more so because the events are real.
The most interesting aspect of Iron Coffins is that as Winston Churchill famously said “History is written by the victors.” In this case though we understand the Second World War through the eyes of a German, not a Nazi, but committed member of the German military. This perspective gives a unique perspective on the war.
Empathy or the ability to walk in someone else’s shoes is such a valuable skill, and this book helps us understand the ‘other side’ of the Second World War. Werner is certainly no defender of the Nazis, in fact he ultimately moved to the United States, but still his perspective is enlightening.
The book also reveals the true meaning of strategy, in that strategy is not about action in vacuüm, but the course of action you should take given how your enemy will react. The book maps out the first advantage U Boats had in the Atlantic, the Allies reaction to that with the convoy system, and then later tit-for-tat moves with detection and evasion techniques. This chronological backdrop gives an interesting perspective to the main story of the U Boat patrols.