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Thunder Below!: The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II | [Eugene B. Fluckey]

Thunder Below!: The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II

Under the leadership of her fearless skipper, Captain Gene Fluckey, the Barb sank the greatest tonnage of any American sub in World War II. At the same time, the Barb did far more than merely sink ships-she changed forever the way submarines stalk and kill their prey.

This is a gripping adventure chock-full of "you-are-there" moments. Fluckey has drawn on logs, reports, letters, interviews, and a recently discovered illegal diary kept by one of his torpedomen.

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Publisher's Summary

The thunderous roar of exploding depth charges was a familiar and comforting sound to the crew members of the USS Barb, who frequently found themselves somewhere between enemy fire and Davy Jones's locker. Under the leadership of her fearless skipper, Captain Gene Fluckey, the Barb sank the greatest tonnage of any American sub in World War II. At the same time, the Barb did far more than merely sink ships-she changed forever the way submarines stalk and kill their prey.

This is a gripping adventure chock-full of "you-are-there" moments. Fluckey has drawn on logs, reports, letters, interviews, and a recently discovered illegal diary kept by one of his torpedomen. And in a fascinating twist, he uses archival documents from the Japanese Navy to give its version of events. The unique story of the Barb begins with its men, who had the confidence to become unbeatable. Each team helped develop innovative ideas, new tactics, and new strategies. All strove for personal excellence, and success became contagious. Instead of lying in wait under the waves, the USS Barb pursued enemy ships on the surface, attacking in the swift and precise style of torpedo boats. She was the first sub to use rocket missiles and to creep up on enemy convoys at night, joining the flank escort line from astern, darting in and out as she sank ships up the column. Surface-cruising, diving only to escape, "Luckey Fluckey" relentlessly patrolled the Pacific, driving his boat and crew to their limits. There can be no greater contrast to modern warfare's long-distance, video game style of battle than the exploits of the captain and crew of the USS Barb, where the sub, out of ammunition, actually rammed an enemy ship until it sank. Thunder Below! is a first-rate, true-life, inspirational story of the courage and heroism of ordinary men under fire.

©1992 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (P)2013 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Fluckey is a fine writer with a lively, colorful style. His book is packed with action and suspense and is rich in details about the day-today operation of a submarine in combat." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (327 )
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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-15-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 12-15-14 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Riveting"

    This is a great story; it is one of those books that grab your attention immediately. Eugene B. Fluckey and the USS Bark sank 140,000 tons of Japanese shipping from April 1944 to the end of the War.

    Admiral Fluckey takes his own memories and weaves it together with a crewman’s illegal diary, reports, letters, ship logs, and interviews as well as archival documents from the Japanese Navy to provide a detailed account of the U.S.S. Barb’s eight through twelfth War patrols. Apparently Fluckey was a brilliant, courageous, fair Captain most concerned about bringing his men home safe. Not a man was wounded onboard Barb while he was the Captain.

    “Lucky Fluckey” pioneered new submarine tactics that are still used today. The high point in the book is a night surface attack through miles of shoal water to attack two Japanese convoys in a harbor in China. Fluckey won the Medal of Honor and the Barb was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Fluckey won the Navy Cross four times, the Navy Distinguish Service medal with one gold star and many more medals. Eugene B Fluckey was a 1935 graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. In 1989 the Navy honored him by naming the Nuclear Submarine Combat System Training Center after him. The only building named for a living person.

    The narration is clear, concise and vivid. Admiral Fluckey is a good writer and the story is not just about him but all the crew of the Barb. The book is well researched. The hardcover book also has lots of photographs. The book is an excellent study of sub warfare tactics and naval leadership. If you are looking for an excellent book about submarines in World War II this is a book for you. I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg has purchased the movie rights to the story. Corey Snow narrated the book. Corey Snow does an excellent job narrating the book.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Boone Georgetown, TX, United States 09-28-13
    Boone Georgetown, TX, United States 09-28-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Action, Excitement, & History. A great read!"

    Great read!! Fluckey did a great job putting you right in the action. Those who were there are the best at this. The book doesn't just tell you what happened, it lets you experince it first hand. You also get to know the men on the boat. I feel like I have a bunch of new friends. This book would be great for anyone interest in action, excitement, and history.

    The production of the Audible portion was one of the best I have ever heard. The reader even pronounces the word " submariner" correctly. If you have ever spoken to an old submarine man he will be quick to tell you it's "submarine-er" not "sub-mariner."

    This one of several titles that have needed to be on Audible for a long time. If everybody buys this title then maybe Audible will add other tiltes like: Richard Kane's "Wahoo" and "Clear the Bridge," and Edward L. Beech's, "Run Silent Run Deep," "Dust on the Sea," "Cold as the Sea," and "Submarine."

    I want more!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rex Rosetta, South Africa 01-18-14
    Rex Rosetta, South Africa 01-18-14
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    "Wow! There were brave men in WWII"
    Would you listen to Thunder Below! again? Why?

    Yes. I enjoy military history. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was stunned at the bravery of the men that went out in submarines


    What other book might you compare Thunder Below! to and why?

    The Bravest Man - another submariner's tale, Neptune's Inferno on the naval battles around Guadalcanal and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors of the heroic stand by destroyers against battleships in Leyte Gulf


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

    no


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I think the title sums it up: Thunder Below!


    Any additional comments?

    An above average tale well told

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vygramul Annandale, VA United States 11-28-13
    Vygramul Annandale, VA United States 11-28-13 Member Since 2013
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    "So incredible it can't be anything but true"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes - the book is well-read and it's an amazing account


    What other book might you compare Thunder Below! to and why?

    The first book that came to mind was The Caine Mutiny - but TCM is about a destroyer minesweeper, is fiction, and largely hinges on poor command, while this book is nonfiction, is a sub, and is largely about good command. But in both books there's a lot of detail about the day-to-day concerns of the men aboard their respective commands.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    For me, it's often the little things. Fluckey's point about not appreciating being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor because it stipulates actions taken without regard to ones personal safety implying he took them without regard to the safety of his crew is an excellent point and really sticks in my mind.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Mostly, I was amazed. Of course, there's always some sadness when the crew has to split up and the command is over, as with any story involving people who formed friendships under intense conditions and subsequently parted ways.


    Any additional comments?

    One of the best WWII books I've had the pleasure of experiencing.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hill Bedford, TX, United States 11-25-13
    Hill Bedford, TX, United States 11-25-13 Member Since 2008
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    "fantastic"

    I listened to this book twice. As soon as I finished it I listened to it a second time. Great job. I didn't know anything about the Barb until I listened to this book. Fantastic!!!! I felt like I was in the south pacific during WWII. So many leaders get to be leaders by not rocking the boat. Sounds like we owe Admiral Fluckey a tip of the hat for being one of those unusual leaders willing to take the step out of the box, By doing so he did a lot to save many of our brave young men during WWII. Thank you Admiral. I like to think of myself as a student of the war in the pacific. The more I read the more I admire the front line marines, the prisoners of Bataan, all of our young men who suffered at the hands of the Japanese during that conflict. The pain and suffering those men went through unimaginable to today's generations. Then to see McArthur pardon most of the Japanese for their war crimes. What our men must of thought about that. Almost 70 years later we are still looking for German war criminals. But not the Japanese. I knew many WWII veteran's and even some WWI vets. They just didn't talk about their war. They just didn't. What a shame, My father-in-law won 7 bronze stars. His family didn't have a clue until his passing. Even his brother didn't know. How or why these men took their deeds to the grave with them speaks volumes to me. They just did what they had to do and came home and lived a productive life. What a generation. Tom Brokaw labeled them the Greatest Generation. He was right on the money. Listen to this book it is excellent.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert United States 01-27-14
    Robert United States 01-27-14
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    "Not for Tom Clancy Tech heads"

    Admiral Fluckey was clearly a great submarine commander and what he and his crew accomplished in the later part of the Pacific war is extremely impressive. The story makes a for an interesting listen if not a particularly informative one. My disappointment stems from the fact that there is so much interesting tech in a submarine but we hear very little about it. The book needs a few paragraphs devoted to the tactics, technical equipment and people used to solve the geometry problem of hitting a distant moving object with an unguided torpedo. He actually spends more time discussing the decoration on their celebratory cakes than he does talking about how they evaded depth charges or use sonar. Overall, a disappointment. I’m looking for a WW2 submarine memoir written to help me understand a bit of what the crew and their gear actually did to accomplish a highly complex mission using nearly steampunk tech.

    11 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ark1836 05-27-15
    Ark1836 05-27-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Powerful History from a True Hero"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I bought this book because it was part of a buy-one-get-one free promotion. I am embarrassed to say that I wasn't expecting much--a sterile, overly technical story. I couldn't have been more wrong. First, this book introduced me to a forgotten American hero--Admiral Fluckey who won the Medal of Honor for his heroics in command of the USS Barb. Second, this book gave me a better appreciation of the sacrifices and risks of submarine service during World War II. Third, the book was exciting. Admiral Fluckey didn't just tell the story--he made it engaging and exciting. How could I not recommend a book that included a submarine sinking a train?


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Admiral Fluckey is, of course, the star of the show. He was one of the most decorated and successful submarine commanders of World War II, and he wrote the book about himself and his adventures. What pleasantly surprised me, though, was his degree of humility. Admiral Fluckey could have rightfully spent the entire book singing his own praises and making himself sound like a superhero...but he didn't do that. Despite his amazing accomplishments, he still presented himself as humble, approachable and human.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    My favorite scene was the description of Admiral Fluckey accidentally throwing an engraved lighter from his wife into the ocean when a radar contact required the crew to dive fast. This doesn't seem like an exciting or overly important scene, but I treasured it because of what it represented and how something so small affected Admiral Fluckey. The accident reflected his humanity--the man who rarely made mistakes and saved his crew countless times carelessly threw away a Christmas gift in the heat of the moment yet it impacted him--he commented how it made him feel like he had thrown his love away. This showed how much he thought of his loved ones at home and helped to bring out what he must have been thinking and feeling in many other instances. This was a small, but powerful, incident in a book full of exciting scenes.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I would not necessarily call my reaction extreme, but I would call it very positive. Admiral Fluckey's heroism and humanity was uplifting and encouraging...something that can be hard to achieve in the context of true stories about wartime hardships.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    BILLB 05-24-15
    BILLB 05-24-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great Sub Story"

    Fascinating,well written and well spoken true story of a great submarine adventure in WWII. Fine narrative style makes for easy listening and enjoyment.
    WWII buffs and Navy fans will definitely like this audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Hill 05-22-15
    John Hill 05-22-15 Member Since 2013
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    "For submariner's everywhere"

    far winds and following seas. If you rode a boat you will love this story

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh F. Lane, Jr. Nashville, TN United States 05-17-15
    Raleigh F. Lane, Jr. Nashville, TN United States 05-17-15
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    "Couldn't put it down"

    The most amazing story that I have read.
    I challenge anyone to put it down.

    This sub during WW 2 is beyond belief. What

    They did and returned home safely is about

    The Greatest Generation! Incredible!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Craig
    Dunfermline, United Kingdom
    12/10/13
    Overall
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    "Brilliant."
    What did you like most about Thunder Below!?

    Right from the first chapter you are kept riveted by this incredible journey into the life of a WW2 Submarine Commander.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Thunder Below!?

    When Eugene Fluckey takes you to the point where they have to rescue the Australian and British troops on board Japanese ships that had just been torpedoed. Its a dramatic and incredible rescue, testament to the determination of the troops to help each other stay alive for as long as possible in order to be saved. Its also incredible just how far Eugene and his men strived to rescue them. A wonderful moment that lives in Fluckey's memory.


    Have you listened to any of Corey Snow’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Corey Snow gets right into the naritive. At some points you can believe that this is the voice of Eugene Fluckey, he brings the Commander and his Submarine alive.


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

    When the submariners start to pull the survivors aboard their Sub and Eugene says he shed tears as they thanked him. The description of the survivor's alone moves the listener.


    Any additional comments?

    A first class listen. Every chapter a story in its own right.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • stig1875
    2/26/15
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    "Brilliant Listen"

    This is not the normal type of book that I would normally listen to, but I could not put my IPod down, Luck Fluckey was a true natural born leader who men followed and the reason the allied forces won the second world war, I highly recommend it to everyone to give it a go you won't be disappointed, believe me.
    Mark H

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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