Surface and Destroy

  • by Michael Sturma
  • Narrated by James McSorley
  • 7 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

World War II submariners rarely experienced anything as exhilarating or horrifying as the surface gun attack. As the submarine shot through the surface of the water, confined sailors scrambled through the hatches armed with large-caliber guns and met the enemy face-to-face. Surface and Destroy: The Submarine Gun War in the Pacific reveals the nature of submarine warfare in the Pacific Ocean during World War II and investigates the challenges of facing the enemy on the surface.
The surface battle amplified the realities of war, bringing submariners into close contact with survivors and potential prisoners of war. As Japan's larger ships disappeared from the Pacific theater, American submarines turned their attention to smaller craft such as patrol boats, schooners, sampans, and junks. Some officers refused to attack enemy vessels of questionable value, while others attacked reluctantly and tried to minimize casualties. Michael Sturma focuses on the submariners' reactions and attitudes toward their victims, exploring the sailors' personal standards of morality and their ability to wage total war. Surface and Destroy is a thorough analysis of the submariner experience and the effects of surface attacks on the war in the Pacific, offering a compelling study of the battles that became "intolerably personal."
The book is published by The University Press of Kentucky.


What the Critics Say

"This is an important book. The writing is excellent and the research meticulous.... It is well worth reading." (Proceedings of the US Naval Institute)
"Michael Sturma has penned an intriguing book on a virtually unknown aspect of a submariner's war." (WWII History)
"An important book for every serious Naval buff for the author offers countless insights into just about every type and condition of surface gun attack and its consequences.... A superb read by an author who knows his subject well." (Sea Classics)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Choppier than San Francisco Bay

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The editing. Random stories is not a book. Literally every paragraph is another random story. There is no cohesion or segue, or even a common theme.

What could Michael Sturma have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Stick with individual submarine stories. Pick a boat, research it, then write the book. "Hellcats" is a great example.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The writing was so choppy, the narrator never could speak a story. So, it sounds like the weather service radio broadcast.

Was Surface and Destroy worth the listening time?


Any additional comments?

Read the first hand accounts, not the historians. Start with "Thunder Below." Then research the Medal of Honor winners and buy their books (not audio books). Another good book is "The Bravest Man."

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- Andrew Scott McClanahan "I've lived in Austin, Texas, for over 10 years, not Houston. World War II is my lifelong interest since my father was a combat veteran in the 8th Air Force. I grew up with pilots, bombardiers, and navigators. They told me many stories of their experiences and I cannot get enough of books and documentaries."

Some interesting stories, but poorly arranged

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Most any WWII submarine entusiast

What do you think your next listen will be?

Any World War II naval action history (non-fiction)

Have you listened to any of James McSorley’s other performances before? How does this one compare?


Any additional comments?

There were some interesting stories, but the book was poorly laid out and ended up being a random set of stories, along with some revisionist and apologetic history of attacks on merchant vessels

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- Bradley J Anderson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-26-2015
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks