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The War Below is a dramatic account of extraordinary heroism, ingenuity, and perseverance—and the vital role American submarines played in winning the Pacific War. Focusing on the unique stories of the submarines Silversides, Drum, and Tang—and the men who skippered and crewed them—James Scott takes readers beneath the waves to experience the thrill of a direct hit on a merchant ship and the terror of depth charge attacks. It’s a story filled with incredible feats of courage, including an emergency appendectomy performed with spoons by an inexperienced medic and the desperate struggle of sailors to escape from a flooded submarine stuck on the bottom, as well as tragic moments such as American submarines sinking an unmarked enemy ship carrying some 1,800 American POWs.
The casualty rate among submariners topped that of all military branches, a staggering six times higher than the surface navy. The war claimed almost one out of every five boats. But Japan was so ravaged by the loss of precious fuel and supplies that by war’s end, Japanese warships lay at anchor while hungry civilians ate sawdust. Scott paints an unforgettable picture of the dangerous life submariners endured, including the atrocious prison camps where the Japanese beat, tortured, and starved captured Allied troops. Based on more than one hundred interviews with submarine veterans and a review of more than three thousand pages of previously unpublished letters, diaries, and personal writings, The War Below allows readers to experience the Pacific War as never before.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Betsy on 07-19-13
Outstanding work so well researched.
My review may be biased as I am the daughter of a WWII submarine skipper. I knew only one of the men but I knew their children. The traits shared by these men come through in the details of this chronicle. It is these details that make this so riveting. A must read (or listen) for those interested in the submarine aspect of WWII. I wish the narrator had put in a little research before he read the script....he mispronounced naval terms and even the name of one of the subs.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Ryan on 06-21-13
Unique. Engaging. Worth your credit.
Any additional comments?
Shortly after the incidents of Dec. 7 1941, the United States unleashed its fleet of what was at the time an unproven and (in comparison to Germany's U-Boats) relatively novice submarines. These brave men participated in a "learn as you go" strategy during the early months of the war, dealing with design and structural failures in their subs, torpedo's that ran amok (and often back at their own boats), and a brutal enemy determined to rule the Pacific.
What this story is really about is the trials and errors, the unfortunate lethal consequences of learning as you go, and the uncanny courage and bravery of crews from three famous submarines of WWII: Silversides, Drum, and Tang.
The facts are the facts, but the author does a great job of bringing personal accounts and emotion into the story. As it follows the plights of these three subs, the listener not only gains a certain affection for their crews, but also an appreciation and respect for the bravery and sheer determination these men displayed on a daily basis. Imagine being stuck 250ft below the surface of the Pacific ocean in a disabled submarine, while your captors circle above, as you slowly run out of oxygen in the darkness. What would you do?
I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you're just looking for a good story or a lesson in history. Many of the details in this book are very hard to come by and James Scott brought them together masterfully.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful