A Measureless Peril

"The former editor of American Heritage magazine, Snow writes with verve and a keen eye. He is a kind of John McPhee of combat at sea, finding humanity in the small, telling details of duty."

- from the full-page review by Evan Thomas, New York Times, Sunday May 16, 2010 review

"...The battle for the Atlantic was harsh; between 1939 and 1945, hundreds of ships were sunk and 80,000 people perished, mostly drowned or burned. Both sides left their victims to die, or killed them in the water. Admiral Dönitz made sure his men showed no mercy. In late 1939, with the outbreak of war in Europe, he commanded his U-boat crews not to give schnapps or cigarettes to survivors in the lifeboats or to set off flares to summon help. 'Rescue no one and take no one aboard. Do not concern yourself with the ship’s boats,' he ordered. 'Weather conditions and the proximity of the land are of no account. Care only for your own boat and strive to achieve the next success as soon as possible! We must be hard in this war.'

"The Americans were hard, too. The first destroyer to sink a U-boat, the U.S.S. Roper, a World War I-vintage four-­stacker, sailed amid the German sailors who were shouting 'Bitte!' ('Please!') as they floundered in the water begging for rescue. The Roper dropped depth charges instead, then swept up the dead bodies. (They were piled on the deck and covered with a tarpaulin, to discourage looting.)..."

--From the Times review

“Far more than a story of battle, A Measureless Peril is a riveting account of the quotidian life of a nation at war. Snow writes of the home-hankering effect of fresh-baked bread tasted aboard a ship far from home; of the affectionate, kidding, and deeply longing letters from men at sea and the women who wait for them; of the pain of seeing other men die and the peculiar pride of doing an unpalatable impossible job well. Richard Snow, the son, and Richard Snow, the father, are two of the most felicitous writers I have ever read. Snow senior’s letters to his wife -- wry, insightful, moral, occasionally short-tempered, and most of all, loving -- make the war as vivid as this morning’s news. Snow junior’s account of the longest battle of World War II is authoritative, fresh, and heart-stopping. His portrait of his father, whom he sees as emblematic of a generation, is luminous. This is a book about fathers and sons that women will love. It is also a book about the experience of war that no woman will be able to put down.”

- Ellen Feldman, author of Lucy, the Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Scottsboro.