A distinguished British maritime writer, Woodman offers a compelling reassessment of the British and German planning that led to the first and one of the most famous naval battles of World War II. The dramatic sea fight between the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee and the British cruisers Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles off the coast of South America in December 1939 is seen as one of the classics of naval warfare. Woodman argues that the long-accepted interpretation of events is ripe for closer scrutiny and reevaluation. Using eyewitness accounts, he graphically reconstructs the daylong battle and pursuit and draws penetrating portraits of the battle's opposing commanders. This important new work is certain to become the subject of close study and debate.