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Tracking the Axis Enemy: The Triumph of Anglo-American Naval Intelligence

University Press of Kansas

By Alan Harris Bath
Posted January 1, 1998
Tags Alumni Books Faculty Books
The 1942–1943 naval campaign against German U-boats known as the Battle of the Atlantic was a major victory not only for Allied warships but also for naval intelligence. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of submarine tracking rooms in London, Washington, and Ottawa, the antisubmarine forces' search-and-destroy missions helped preserve the safety of the seaways.

Naval intelligence is an aspect of World War II that has received scant attention. Now former naval intelligence officer Alan Harris Bath traces the coordination of Anglo-American efforts before and during the war, identifying the political, military, technological, and human factors that aided and sometimes hindered cooperation. He compares the Allies' different and often conflicting styles of intelligence gathering and reveals ways in which interagency and interservice rivalries complicated an already complex process.

Drawing on archives in the United States, United Kingdom, and British Commonwealth, Bath describes how cooperation took place at all levels of decision-making, in all theaters of war, and at all points in the intelligence cycle, from gathering through analysis to dissemination. He tells how the United States learned from Britain's longer experience with the war and how intelligence cooperation was always subordinated to, and in the final months of war impeded by, Anglo-American political relations.

Although victory in the Atlantic was the capstone of this cooperative endeavor, Bath also describes how intelligence relationships fared in the South Pacific, examining their impact on the forces of Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur as well as those of Australia and New Zealand. Throughout the book, he emphasizes the contributions of Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian naval intelligence to the Allied effort.

As the first in-depth study of the nature, evolution, and impact of information sharing by Allied navies, Tracking the Axis Enemy is essential reading for historians and intelligence buffs alike. By showing how Anglo-American political and cultural bonds influenced intelligence operations and how those operations shaped campaigns, it contributes a new perspective on the Allied victory.

Reviews

"A fine work that demonstrates how the combined talents of the alliance produced a vastly superior intelligence product and shortened a fearsome war."--John Prados, author of Combined Fleet Decoded

"A cogent and valuable guide through the intelligence maze of the Second World War."--Bradley F. Smith, author of Sharing Secrets with Stalin: How the Allies Traded Intelligence, 1941–1945

"Demands the attention of everyone interested in the strategic, operational, and technological history of World War II."--Kenneth J. Hagan, author of This People's Navy: The Making of American Sea Power

"Essential reading for anyone interested in intelligence during the Second World War."--John Ferris, author of Intelligence and Strategy

"Filled with strikingly original insights."--Edward J. Drea, author of MacArthur's ULTRA: Codebreaking in the War

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