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more than one hundred interviews with submarine veterans and a review of more than three thousand pages of previously unpublished letters, diaries, and personal writings, The War Below allows readers to experience the Pacific War as never before.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“Using voluminous official records plus interviews and an amazing number of unpublished diaries and letters, former Charleston Post and Courier investigative reporter Scott delivers a gripping, almost day-by-day account of the actions of three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)
"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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, great story and suprise ending regarding POWs
Quick paced and excitement
Skippers of the submarines were each genius in their own right
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