On December 7, 1941, as the great battleships Arizona, Oklahoma, and Utah lie paralyzed and burning in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A crack team of U.S. Navy salvage divers headed by Edward C. Raymer are hurriedly flown to Oahu from the mainland. Their two-part orders are direct and straightforward: (1) rescue as many trapped sailors and Marines as possible, and (2) resurrect what remains of America's once mighty pacific fleet. Descent Into Darkness tells their story.
©1996 Edward C. Raymer (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I first read this book back in the summer of 1996. Since then, I had lost my copy and was very pleased to see that they have published more now. It is as fasinating and informative now as it was back then. As a naval history fan, this book is one that really filled in what happened after the bombs stopped falling. I cant imagine what it must have been like for the men who lived through the events Mr. Raymer writes about. He really conveys the experiences and makes you feel like you are there next to him trying to make your way through complete darkness knowing that the bodies of your fellow sailors surround you. Mr. Raymer is not only an outstanding man for the work he did during the war, but also as an author, who 72 years later still keeps history alive.
I can’t even finish this book with only 2.5 hours left. I bought this book based on two things; Ian Toll referenced Cdr. Raymer’s experiences at Pearl Harbor in Pacific Crucible which fascinated me and the Audible reviews for this book were all good. So, even though I felt from the audio sample that the narration was monotone I was hoping the story would make up for it; it didn’t. The narration goes beyond monotone too purely mechanical within a few minutes and becomes nearly unbearable. It doesn’t grow on you and it doesn’t get better with time as some do. I held out hoping that a story would be told that would captivate me and keep me going, but that didn’t happen. After listening to Peter Johnson on other samples I’m convinced that it’s the book’s writing more then the narrator that makes me write this. No narrator could make this book better and that’s a truly hard thing to say about such a topic.
The book starts out fairly good when he starts describing the attack on Pearl Harbor and the diving, but it quickly devolves into a series of unnecessary, uninteresting and disconnected stories about how he and his fellow divers try to build stills, obtain alcohol, woo waitresses, or visit prostitutes. By the fifth hour the book goes even further with a pointless anecdote describing the sound of the bedsprings squeaking after “Joe had mounted Thelma and was banging away solidly” while another diver looked on. This was yet another tale that lent absolutely nothing to the overall story and brought no context to the larger events whatsoever. Occasionally, in between things like explaining how the war liberated Hawaii’s hookers from their madams, the book does talk about diving on one of the warships in the harbor. It gives a snippet of a story about the USS Nevada or USS West Virginia, but then it jumps in the next paragraph right back to another story of the off duty vice of the divers. Yes, when he’s actually talking about the diving it’s very interesting and very sad and it brings you into the situation, but these points only cover about half of the book; maybe. I appreciate the work all the divers did in Pearl Harbor, but I can’t be sympathetic about the stress they were under which caused them to worry about how they were going to get drunk or have sex when men like my father were languishing in the jungles of Asia and other men were being depth charged on subs, or attacked by dive-bombers on a daily basis.
Granted, it does say “A Navy Diver’s Memoir” so I get that some of the story telling will be disconnected, but this is not a good book. I don’t like being so harsh for such a brave man, but it would’ve been better if he had used a ghostwriter or a biographer to tell his story. I think that could have produced a very good book.
Very well written and read. An easy and interesting listen. The narration was excellent, and the story kept my interest.
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