This is the improbable story of two very different German cruisers. The sleek and powerful Admiral Hipper was the much-heralded prototype of one of the most formidable ship classes of World War II. In contrast, the Pinguin, a converted merchantman, was armed with only 5.9 inch guns and operated by a predominately reservist crew. Contrary to all expectations, the amateur warship Pinguin was highly successful and went out in a blaze of glory, while the Admiral Hipper was hard-pressed to make its mark in the war and ended its days in ignominy. To tell the story, the author delves into the striking distinction between the conduct of the Pinguin's captain, who made a strong effort to minimize Allied casualties, and the callous attitude of the Admiral Hipper's captain. All those with an interest in World War II at sea will be fascinated by their contrasting fortunes.