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more than one hundred interviews with submarine veterans and a review of more than three thousand pages of previously unpublished letters, diaries, and personal writings, The War Below allows readers to experience the Pacific War as never before.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.
“Using voluminous official records plus interviews and an amazing number of unpublished diaries and letters, former Charleston Post and Courier investigative reporter Scott delivers a gripping, almost day-by-day account of the actions of three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)
I no longer live in Worcester. I now live in Brooklyn, NY.
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.
"The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why" Mark Twain
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.
I've read and listened to countless books on WWII Naval history, most recently The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailers which was excellent I might add. Flyboys, and The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945, were also excellent. When I read a book on Naval history, I don't want to read anything that has even the slightest hint of Hollywood embellishment, or one-sided heroic anecdotes making a ship, crew, or skipper look far greater than what history can prove. And having served in the world's finest Navy, I like to use my experience, as well as adaptations of naval jargon to test the validity of what I'm being told. The War Below met, and often exceeded my expectations.
I was a surface sailer, and having only toured a few subs while in port, I have no desire to get underway on a ship designed to sink. Those guys are simply nuts! But to hear their story, and what type of person it took to both lead, and man a sub in war time had my attention. As stated, I cannot imagine going under water intentionally, but to hunt, and be hunted with the primitive sonar and radar capabilities of the 1940's is far beyond my comprehension and something that I can only marvel at.
The War Below does an excellent job of depicting life in a WWII submarine, what it was like to live on those fish, and what it was like to go to war. Every chapter provided a glimpse at what a crew was like, how they were commanded, and what was needed by each crew member to remain undetected in a target rich environment, the China Sea, and the Sea of Japan. I enjoyed this one, cover to cover
I give this book two thumbs up, and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a read that is unlike the typical WWII Naval war story.
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.
James Scott follows three ships, but writes of several others, in this masterful display of history and epic. The personal accounts of the skippers and crews on these World War 2 submarines outlines the danger and heroism that would come to define them. The history of the boats as well as the careers of many of the officers and crews gives this an extremely personal feel.
This is a solid history with direct quotes and referenced information, but it is far from a simple history and acts as a full suspenseful narrative.
Donald Corren beautifully narrates this piece. His tone and cadence embody the importance and measured passion of the story.
A must read for any interested and in submarine ware fare, naval history, world war 2, or the Pacific Theater.
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.
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