1956 1st edition "First published, 1956, in the United States" stated; Doubleday & Company publishers, New York; hardbound in light green boards with blue lettering on spine; quite good condition with unmarked pages and minimal age foxing to pages (see pics); no dust jacket.
HMS Ulysses was the debut novel by Scottish author Alistair MacLean. Originally published in 1955, it was also released by Fontana Books in 1960. MacLean's experiences in the Royal Navy during World War II provided the background and the Arctic convoys to Murmansk provided the basis for the story, which was written at a publisher's request after he'd won a short story competition the previous year.
The novel features HMS Ulysses, a light cruiser that is well armed and among the fastest ships in the world. Her crew is pushed well beyond the limits of endurance and the book starts in the aftermath of a mutiny. Ulyssesputs to sea again to escort FR-77, a vital convoy heading for Murmansk. They are beset by numerous challenges: an unusually fierce Arctic storm, German ships and U-boats, as well as air attacks. All slowly reduce the convoy from 32 ships to only five. The Ulysses is sunk in a failed attempt to ram a German cruiser after all her other weapons had been destroyed. This echoes events in which British G-class destroyer HMS Glowworm and HMS Jervis Bay, an armed merchant cruiser, sacrificed themselves by engaging larger opponents.
The book uses a set of events to paint moving portrayals of the crew and the human aspects of the war. His heroes are not especially motivated by ideals, they rarely excel at more than one task and they are overcome by a respectable enemy. It is their resilience that pushes these seamen to acts of heroism. The realism of the descriptions, the believable motivations of the characters and the simplicity of the line of events make the story all the more credible, though the number of coincidental accidents that plague the crew is startling.