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The War Below Audiobook

The War Below: The Story of Three Submarines That Battled Japan

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.
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Publisher's Summary

The riveting story of the submarine force that helped win World War II by ravaging Japan’s merchant fleet and destroying its economy.

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more than one hundred interviews with submarine veterans and a review of more than three thousand pages of previously unpublished letters, diaries, and personal writings, The War Below allows readers to experience the Pacific War as never before.

©2013 James M. Scott (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Using voluminous official records plus interviews and an amazing number of unpublished diaries and letters, former Charleston Post and Courier investigative reporter Scott delivers a gripping, almost day-by-day account of the actions of three submarines…Military buffs will lap it up, but general readers may find it difficult to resist the tension, drama, and fireworks of this underappreciated but dazzlingly destructive American weapon of World War II.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This is the most absorbing narrative of submarine warfare that I’ve read in years. The research is so deep, and the writing so vivid, I could practically feel the vast ocean closing over me as these three boats ranged the Pacific looking for the kill.” (James D. Hornfischer, New York Times bestselling author)

“Beautifully researched and masterfully told, James Scott’s book is an enthralling and important addition to the story of undersea warfare.” (Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from the Deep)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (237 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ryan Fairbanks, AK, United States 06-21-13
    Ryan Fairbanks, AK, United States 06-21-13 Member Since 2012

    "The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betsy brooklyn, NY 07-19-13
    Betsy brooklyn, NY 07-19-13 Member Since 2016

    I no longer live in Worcester. I now live in Brooklyn, NY.

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    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melford 05-15-15
    Melford 05-15-15 Member Since 2015
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    "James Scott is an amazing history teller."

    James Scott brings alive the fascinating characters from the Pacific submarine WWII campaign. I am ready for the movie version.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    deepseamac 04-28-15
    deepseamac 04-28-15 Member Since 2014
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    "a moving tribute"

    A vivid account of the men who served on submarines in the Pacific during World War 2. A colorful and moving tribute to the heroism and dedication of those who persevere in very difficult times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tikicarver Kaneohe, Hawaii 05-22-16
    Tikicarver Kaneohe, Hawaii 05-22-16 Member Since 2015
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    "great history of pacific sub war"

    this was a great book. l learned a lot about what it was like to be on a sub in the Pacific during WWll.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Murel 02-23-16
    Murel 02-23-16
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    "Great story of brave men of the submarine service."

    This is a look inside the most dangerous job in US Navy during WWII. The author & narrator injects you into the story with the sub's crews. It shows our freedom comes with a price.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MrSkinny 12-16-15
    MrSkinny 12-16-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Submariners"

    Good book to listen to. It did a good job explaining the life of a submariner during WWII. The good times and the bad.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 12-09-15
    Andrew 12-09-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Best book I've read"
    What did you love best about The War Below?

    As a student of military history, I tend to focus on the western theater of war during WWII. This book, however, gives amazing detail on the lives and woes of those brave sailors aboard submarines during the "wild west era". You get to see the perspectives not only from the captain and officers, but from the crew. The fact that James Scott also took the time to dig through Japanese records of the convoys adds even more reliability and impact to the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked best the stories (can't stay with just one) which showed the hearts and souls of the crew (there are too many to count throughout) and I especially found interesting the various good luck rituals each captain had.


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

    I have not. He's no Stefan Rudnicki, but he's a good narrator. He's perfect for historical books, I think. He can put emotion into the words in a way that makes you pay attention and, in some cases, feel as if you were really with these men, hearing their thoughts and words.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Yes. There is a point near the end where a captain does the most moving thing he can do in his situation. He looks out for his mens' well being above his own and bears punishment himself.


    Any additional comments?

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!!! Because of this book, I'm doing more research on the submariners of WWII and WWI. This is probably my new favorite book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 09-05-15
    Matthew 09-05-15
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    "Best Written & Best Told Story of American Subs"

    I've listened to this book twice and will listen to it again. It is a very well written and an extremely well narrated book. What is particularly good is the manner in which the author switches between the three submarines and still manages to tie the various stories together. Contrary to becoming confusing or disjointed, for my part, it made the listening even more riveting. I'm constantly looking for good books about American sub warfare and so far the others pale in comparison. Although a story might be well written and well researched, let's face it, narration is huge and Donald Corren is now in my top five narrators because of his performance in this book. The author also manages to relate facts without making it sound like a captains daily log or a statistics lecture. If you are in any manner a WWII, naval, or submarine buff you should get this one for your library.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Warren Cary, NC, United States 11-24-14
    Warren Cary, NC, United States 11-24-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Submarine Excellence"
    Would you listen to The War Below again? Why?

    Yes, great story and suprise ending regarding POWs


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Capt Boyington


    What does Donald Corren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Quick paced and excitement


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    POW Camp


    Any additional comments?

    Skippers of the submarines were each genius in their own right

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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