By 1916 the German merchant fleet had been driven from the seas by a British blockade that had cut off Germany from foreign markets and put the nation on the verge of economic collapse. Germany's desperate response was the Deutschland, a merchant U-boat uniquely designed with an exceptionally wide beam to carry cargo. Its brief career as a blockade-runner captured international headlines, and Paul Konig's fast-moving account of its maiden voyage was one of the most popular books of the year when first published in the United States in 1917.
Although an acknowledged piece of German propaganda, the story is nevertheless a thrilling one that has attracted readers for decades. Veteran submariners and landlubbers alike have been fascinated by the author's descriptions of life on board the World War I submarine. Ordered to transport valuable cargo to America and return with equally valuable cargo, the captain intended to make a joke of the blockade. The trip was no ordinary passage, however, and Konig keeps readers on the edge of their seats with his tales of the Deutschland barely managing to evade British ASW on its way to the port of Baltimore, where Konig and his crew were welcomed as heroes. The informative introduction that accompanies this new edition of the work has been written by Dwight R. Messimer, the author of a study of the U-boat's entire career called The Merchant U-Boat and Find and Destroy: Antisubmarine Warfare in World War I.