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Publisher's Summary

The novel that launched the astonishing career of one of the 20th century's greatest writers of action and suspense - an acclaimed classic of heroism and the sea in World War II.

The story of men who rose to heroism, and then to something greater, HMS Ulysses takes its place alongside The Caine Mutiny and The Cruel Sea as one of the classic novels of the navy at war.

It is the compelling story of Convoy FR77 to Murmansk - a voyage that pushes men to the limits of human endurance, crippled by enemy attack and the bitter cold of the Arctic.

©1955 HarperCollins Publishers (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant, overwhelming piece of descriptive writing." ( Observer)
"A story of exceptional courage which grips the imagination." ( Daily Telegraph)
"It deserves an honourable place among 20th-century war books." ( Daily Mail)
" HMS Ulysses is in the same class as The Cruel Sea." ( Evening Standard)

What listeners say about HMS Ulysses

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Heroes all

Lest we forget. Who could ever forget these men. In God's hands. We must live for them now.

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Brilliant storytelling

When I was young, this story was too complex for my taste. As a (mature) adult, the brilliance of the storytelling, the imagery and the shear horror of life on board a warship in the worst conditions imaginable came to life. Highly recommended if you like seafaring tales in wartime.

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a ship steel and men of oak

a great story of struggle, redemption and the perils of war on the Russian convoy route.

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Great story

One of my favourite stories &have read it many times. Thank you for producing an unabridged version!
Excellent narration, cheers

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A wonderful, stirring tale of its time.

For those interested in the Navy, and World War 2 in particular, you cannot do better than this marvellous story if the Murmansk run. Boldly written, and beautifully read.

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  • Brian67
  • 15-04-2017

Amazing but heartbreaking and sad.

One of the most heartbreaking, saddest books I've ever read. The novel has stuck with me for over 50 years, reading it first at the age of 15 and now as an audiobook. I am fascinated by the nature of leadership, heroism, and our human response to extreme physical and psychological environments. Amundsen, Shackleton, and Bligh come to mind in listening to MacLean's imaginary Captain Vallery of the HMS Ulysses.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Morton T Saunders JR
  • 21-10-2018

Riveting

I have listened and read many of Alistair MacLean’s books and this one tops it for character development set in a harrowing environment and time in history. Worth every second listening.

2 people found this helpful

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  • John W. Snell
  • 11-02-2021

Magnificent...

Very pleased with this grand gift to myself. Look forward to listening again--soon... The narrator a true master of his art...

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ben Strandberg
  • 15-11-2019

great book

The only complaint I have about this book is that at times it was hard to keep track of some of the characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • katharine potter
  • 27-08-2019

outstanding exposition of human frailty and resilience

rather than an arctic war adventure story, this is an examination of human beings under extreme circumstances, their frailties and courage. characters live and breathe, fail and rise above failure with fascinating motivations, clearly described with great understanding.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-09-2020

great sea story!

expertly written to the smallest detail, I could literally feel the cold. very well performed.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-06-2020

Great Narrator

One of the rare instances where the narrator is better than the story. I found myself thinking of my English teacher’s distinction between “pathos” & “bathos” @ points in this story when hey, it wasn’t bad enough, the author threw something else in. So while it was good it wasn’t great.

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  • F. Pryor
  • 31-05-2020

Tepid military soap opera suffused with melodrama

Who knew there could be so much hand-wringing and pearl-clutching in a naval yarn. Elmore Leonard advised against starting a novel with the weather. This one never stops.

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  • Jenny
  • 18-05-2020

Good read

I thought it was a good story. however the ending did get to me a bit. It's definitely not your generic storyline.

great narrator no complaints.

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  • John
  • 07-06-2019

Strong Book, Excellent Narration

I read this book back in 1985 and remembered liking it. I was a big MacLean fan back in those days. This book didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed it and particularly think the narration was excellent. Highly recommended.

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  • Amy
  • 14-09-2017

Outstanding rendition

HMS Ulysses is, in my humble opinion, the greatest book ever written. I've read more books in my lifetime than I can recall and not one of the has the absolute, heart-rending power of this one.

Maclean produced something beyond that of most writers, of most people, in HMS Ulysses he made a story which grips you tightly from the first paragraph and never for one second lets go.

I still don't know who the main character is in this book; is it Vallery, Nicholls, Turner? Or is it the Ulysses herself? Either way it doesn't really matter, the semantics and structure of the book pale into insignificance compared with the subject itself.

I wasn't on the Atlantic convoys, I've never been to the Arctic, but HMS Ulysses describes both with the utmost clarity and depth. I feel cold when I read/listen to this book, I feel the snow and the ice and I hear the ship's crashing down into troughs between towering waves. Maclean was a master of description and I doubt he will ever be bettered.

I defy anyone not to cry when reading/listening to HMS Ulysses. To become so attached to characters we only meet for a few pages is bizarre, but become attached you do and each character death is more heart-breaking than the last. I sob my eyes out every single time, the book is so damned powerful.

I know others will disagree when I say this is the greatest book ever written and that's good, differing opinions are always interesting, but I personally think that HMS Ulysses is the one book that every single person should read at least once in their lifetime. Really properly read and understand, because it's the most powerful anti-war story I've ever seen. Nothing can touch it, it stands alone, in my opinion, at the very pinnacle of literary genius.

If you want to listen to a book that you will never forget, listen to HMS Ulysses. It is quite simply superb.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Steve
  • 06-04-2017

Finally!!!! An unabridged version of this classic!

What made the experience of listening to HMS Ulysses the most enjoyable?

Although this is fiction the Arctic convoys to Murmansk really happened in WW2. I first read this book as a teenager and have always loved it. The book empersizes the harsh conditions and the extreme cold and whether conditions in the Arctic, and life on board HMS Ulysses, a cruiser and flagship of the escort force for Convoy FR77 to Murmansk North Russia. At times the story is very moving and you feel for the characters. Of all the books Alistair MacLean wrote this should have been a movie!!!!!

Who was your favorite character and why?

The ships Captain ' Captain Richard Vallery. He was a leader and he was empathetic to his crew

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The storm in the Arctic Ocean was very dramatic

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If I could I would

Any additional comments?

Reading this as a teenager the book made me aware of the Convoys and the hell those crews went though and so many were lost to U boats and air attack. Again although HMS Ulysses is fiction the convoys and their escorts isn't. I like this as much as The Cruel Sea. The Merchant Seamen in these convoys even today are so unrecognised. Thank you Audable for releasing this Gem as an unabridged audio book as it should be listened to. The Abridged version is a waste of time...

10 people found this helpful

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  • Shuja Baig
  • 02-09-2019

Sister ship to Babur, on which I served in '71

Enjoyed it thoroughly, as I had seen action on her sister ship Babur in '71. We too depressed our 5.25s during a submarine action.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Q
  • 31-08-2017

Heartbreaking

One of the best stories I've ever hear brought me to tears at points and I felt ashamed
Gut wrenching all the young men in this kind of conflict show what real courage is
Thanks to MacLean what a writer
HEROs every last one
Q

2 people found this helpful

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  • alexander
  • 14-08-2017

British navy as it really was in the 1940s

this story needs to be heard when sitting comfortably by a warm fire. it is about the cold and the north Atlantic when Russia needed Great Britain's help with fuel, tanks, etc to keep Germany on their side.

1 person found this helpful

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  • I WHITE
  • 07-08-2017

Fantastic read.

I read this book over 50 years ago (when I could still see to read) I had forgotten what a great & exciting story it is! Starts off at a sprint & keeps going to the climatic finish. No time to get your breath. Alistair Maclean was a great loss to readers of all ages. If you like naval fiction, this is not one to miss!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lynne
  • 15-06-2017

HMS Ulysses

Excellent reproduction of the novel. Jonathan Oliver's performance was first-rate, bringing all the characters to life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anthony B
  • 28-01-2021

Gripping

A gripping and harrowing tale of life aboard a WW2 Royal Navy light cruiser, escorting merchant ships, on an Artic convey. The drama is almost unrelenting so prepare yourself for a rough ride. I felt that the reader was not comfortable with the material for the first few chapters, but stick with it as he settles into the story and reads extremely well for most of the book.

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  • MR
  • 08-11-2020

Stick with it

Started listening to this story and struggled for the first hour but then I got into it. What a story. Brilliantly written and read. I was very impressed of how it did not glamorise war which really hit home. A lot of insight on what the navy went through and how many paid the ultimate price on some cold barren part of the ocean. Lest we forgot.

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  • seamus
  • 24-09-2020

Fantastic narrator cold just listening

great story would love to see it made into a film and not to be changed in any way .The narrator was brilliant made the story truly feel as really as it could be ,definitely would recommend it ,it's not for the faint hearted. recommend listing to this audiobook on the hottest day of year you will realise why after you get into it

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