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Publisher's Summary

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US Navy had a total of 111 submarines. However, this fleet was not nearly as impressive as the number suggests. It was mostly a collection of aging boats from the late teens and early twenties, with only a few of the newer, more modern Gato-class boats. Fortunately, with the war in Europe was already two years old and friction with Japan ever increasing, help from what would become known as the Silent Service in the Pacific was on the way: there were 73 of the new fleet submarines under construction. 

The Silent Service in World War II tells the story of America's intrepid underwater warriors in the words of the men who lived the war in the Pacific against Japan. The enemy had already begun to deploy advanced boats, but the U.S. was soon able to match them. By 1943, the new Gato-class boats were making a difference, carrying the war not just to the Japanese Imperial Navy but to the vital merchant fleet that carried the vast array of materiel needed to keep the land of the Rising Sun afloat.

As the war progressed, American success in the Solomons, starting with Guadalcanal, began to constrict the Japanese sea lanes, and operating singly or in wolfpacks, they were able to press their attacks on convoys operating beyond the range of our airpower, making daring forays even into the home waters of Japan itself in the quest for ever more elusive targets. Also taking on Japanese warships, as well as rescuing downed airmen (such as the grateful first President Bush), US submarines made an enormous contribution to our war against Japan.

©2012 Edward Monroe-Jones and Michael Green (P)2018 Tantor

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • Burtonsville, MD
  • 07-17-18

Different than I thought but great.

Each chapter is a story from an individual submariner. It was quite interesting, very informative, and in some part funny. Definitely worth the listen.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 09-17-18

Disappointing

The most interesting passage in this book comes in the last chapter, when the crews return to California to deliver their subs to the ship breakers. The sailor who wrote that chapter tells about his Chief of the Boat asking him if he might want to make a career in the Navy. He dutifully says he might, even though he's no longer sure. Maybe one reason is the COB sitting on a bunk before him, this grizzled warrior now smelling of liquor and evidently dreading peacetime life.

The narrator ends with a description of heroic sub after sub being hauled off for scrap. The civilian breaking crews stand on the decks, smoking. The wartime sailors watch their boats from the shore for a while, then walk away.

I learned something about loss in that chapter. It was a little like Audie Murphy knowing he's good with an M1 Garand, but wondering what he's going to do with that skill now that the fighting's over.

I'm sure these sailors went to Hell and Back, too, but for most of the book, you'd never know it. Most of them don't seem to let the reader too deeply into their experience. Maybe it's the pervasive use of the passive voice. People don't seem to do much. Things happen to them, or around them, things that they describe as mildly interesting spectacles. Or maybe it's the editors imposing an oddly flat style to what should surely be gripping stories. Here are young men being depth-charged, or surfacing in the middle of a convoy with all tubes firing, or getting left on deck by mistake when a sub has to dive in a hurry, and it's all oddly uniform in its lack of engagement.

If I had been one of those sailors and had tried to tell what had really happened only to see my story polished flat by the editors, I'd be pretty angry. I can't imagine setting out to tell a story that was important to me and using such lackluster language, working so hard to keep my experience at arm's length. I think I'd either keep my mouth shut, or I'd tell what it was like.

I didn't want blood and thunder. I wanted truth. Most of the time, I got reports.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating and easy read

A series of vinginets told from the perspective of the sailors who lives the experience.