Dan van der Vat

Book List

The Grand Scuttle The Grand Scuttle
Published 1982 - Hodder & Stoughton (original hardback), Spellmount (latest hardback), Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh (latest paperback)

THE GRAND SCUTTLE relates how the Kaiser’s battlefleet came to be interned at Scapa Flow at the end of the First World War, how it was sent to the bottom – in error! - by the German admiral in charge and what happened afterwards, including the staggering effort to salvage the wrecks.  This was the largest act of material self-destruction in the history of warfare.

Book is available at: Blackwell's | Amazon

The Last Corsair The Last Corsair
Published 1983 - Hodder & Stoughton (original hardback), Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh (latest paperback)

THE LAST CORSAIR (GENTLEMEN OF WAR in the USA) describes the Indian Ocean campaign in 1914 against Allied shipping by a lone German cruiser, SMS Emden, under Captain Karl von Müller, who became famous in Britain, where he was admired for his gallantry. The Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney destroyed his ship, but a detachment under the First Lieutenant reached Istanbul in an epic escape march across Arabia.

Book is available at: Amazon

The Ship that changed the World The Ship that Changed the World
Published 1985 - Hodder & Stoughton (original hardback), Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh (latest paperback)

THE SHIP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD covers a double disaster for the Royal Navy in 1914. It could have prevented the German battlecruiser Goeben from escaping to Turkey but failed. As a result the Germans were able to close the Dardanelles, a strategic setback for the British, and to provoke war between Turkey and Russia, which was thus cut off, leading to defeat and revolution in both empires. The story continues in The Dardanelles Disaster.

Book is available at: Amazon

The Atlantic Campaign The Atlantic Campaign
Published 1988 - Hodder & Stoughton (original hardback), Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh (latest paperback)

THE ATLANTIC CAMPAIGN was the central strategic struggle of the Second World War, in which Britain and her allies fought to overcome the German effort to cripple transatlantic traffic between North America and the UK. Britain depended on Canada for food and the US for munitions, and a U-boat triumph would have knocked her out of the war. The campaign lasted throughout the war and the book is a panorama of strategy, technology, codebreaking and exciting action at sea and on land.

Book is available at: Amazon

The Pacific Campaign The Pacific Campaign
Published 1992 - Hodder & Stoughton (original hardback), Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh & Simon & Schuster (latest paperbacks)

THE PACIFIC CAMPAIGN covers the naval war between the USA and Japan in 1941-45, the largest in history. It begins at Pearl Harbor and ends aboard the USS Missouri as General MacArthur accepts the Japanese surrender. The origins of the war in all their fascinating complexity are explained, including an analysis of American and Japanese internal politics and of diplomatic deception, codebreaking and political skulduggery on both sides. Events at sea, in the air and in a series of extreme battles on Pacific islands complete a book which is recommended reading for the US Navy.

Book is available at: Blackwell's | Amazon

Freedom Was Never Like This Freedom Was Never Like This
Published 1991 - Hodder & Stoughton (original hardback)

FREEDOM WAS NEVER LIKE THIS tells how the author “discovered” the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, just as it was being dismantled after German reunification. As The Times correspondent in West Germany in the 1970s, the writer was routinely denied access to the GDR outside East Berlin. As soon as the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 he arranged to explore the Stasi’s former empire and was surprised by some of his findings.

Book is available at: Amazon

Stealth at Sea Stealth at Sea
Published 1994 - Weidenfeld & Nicolson (original hardback), Orion (paperback edition)

STEALTH AT SEA is a comprehensive history of the submarine, from  the first experiments with upturned rowing boats to today’s nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed monsters, the most powerful weapon-systems in the world and core of the world’s five leading navies. They were originally no more than submersible torpedo-boats that had to come up frequently for air. Only since USS Nautilus was commissioned in 1954 has it been possible to speak of true submarines which can live under water until their nuclear fuel runs out.

Book is available at: Amazon

The Riddle of the Titanic The Riddle of the Titanic
Published 1995 - Weidenfeld & Nicolson (original hardback), Orion (paperback edition)
Co-authored with Robin Gardiner

THE RIDDLE OF THE TITANIC takes a new look at the unforgettable tragedy in 1912 when the world’s largest and most luxurious liner of its time hit an iceberg and sank. For the first time the fate of each lifeboat is told, along with what happened to the crew as well as the passengers, rich and poor. Robin Gardiner’s conspiracy theory of the disaster is introduced, spelt out and assessed in a bestselling and controversial text written by Dan van der Vat. Plot or not, many a riddle remains unanswered to this day.

Book is available at: Amazon

The Good Nazi The Good Nazi
Published 1997 - Weidenfeld & Nicolson (original hardback), Phoenix, London (paperback edition)

THE GOOD NAZI is a straightforward but detailed and deeply researched biography of Albert Speer, Hitler’s architect and later munitions and construction minister. He escaped a death sentence at Nuremberg by accepting his share of general Nazi guilt while denying a personal knowledge or share in the regime’s war crimes. His denial unravelled in his declining years as more and more embarrassing evidence emerged.

Book is available at: Amazon

Standard of Power Standard of Power
Published 2000 - Weidenfeld & Nicolson (original hardback), Pimloco, London (paperback edition)

STANDARD OF POWER is a comprehensive study of the Royal Navy in the 20th century, during which it saved the nation twice by narrowly overcoming the German U-boat campaigns in both world wars. It began as the world’s leading navy by a large margin and ended in 2000 with fewer sailors than it had in the 1830s – a story of decline that began in 1914 and is still going on.

Book is available at: Amazon

Pearl Harbour Pearl Harbour
Published 2001 - Basic Books/Perseus, London & New York (hardback & paperback editions)

PEARL HARBOR is a large-format, lavishly illustrated account of the Japaense surprise attack on the base of the US Pacific Fleet. It knocked out the American battlefleet but missed the aircraft carriers with which the US Navy soon began to turn the tide. The psychological effects however reverberate in the USA to this day. A bestseller in the USA.

Book is available at: Amazon

D-Day D-Day
Published 2003-4 - Bloomsbury, London & New York (hardback & paperback editions)

D-DAY – THE GREATEST INVASION allowed the author to come ashore from  his naval proceedings, describing the land campaign that followed the largest and most complex amphibious operation in the history of warfare. The large format gives space for some spectacular and poignant photographs, as well as paintings and maps, individual recollections and a personal note of what the victory meant for a five-year-old boy growing up in northern Holland.

Book is available at: Amazon

Eel Pie Island Eel Pie Island
Published October 2009
Co-authored with Michele Whitby

EEL PIE ISLAND, a lavishly illustrated, large-format book, tells the story of the UK’s oddest musical venue, central to the development of popular music in Britain in the 1960s, where trad jazz and then rhythm and blues made way for the first gigs by the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and many others.

The musical section is by Michele Whitby.

Book is available at: Amazon

Dardanelles Disaster The Dardanelles Disaster
Published 2010 - Duckworth

THE DARDANELLES DISASTER is a new look at Winston Churchill’s catastrophic attempt in 1915 to reopen the Dardanelles by fleet action alone. The first consequence was the bloody land struggle at Gallipoli, which also failed. The geopolitical and other results are followed through to the 21st century.

A sequel to The Ship that Changed the World.

Book is available at: Blackwell's | Amazon

Kathleen's War Kathleen's War
Published 2011 - DFJ Books
Co-authored with Kathleen van der Vat

KATHLEEN'S WAR. At his request, the author's mother wrote down her crystal-clear memories of living as an Englishwoman through the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Holland. The author has added a detailed commentary adding local and general context to her account. Illustrated with photos and map.

Book is available at: Amazon