THUNDER BELOW! by Eugene B. Fluckey

THUNDER BELOW!

The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Among the scores of US submarine skippers in WW II's Pacific theater, Fluckey, captain of the Barb on five war patrols, was credited with sinking the greatest tonnage of enemy shipping. All told, he and his well-trained crew sent over 85 Japanese vessels (including a carrier, a cruiser, and a frigate) to the bottom. They also laid waste to a host of coastal installations, destroying Japan's largest paper mill as well as a sizable shipyard and, on one occasion, slipping ashore to blow up a 16-car military train (thereby becoming the only Americans to land on Japanese soil before the guns fell silent). A 1935 graduate of Annapolis, Fluckey offers a grippingly detailed account of his command's hell-and-high-water feats, which won him the Congressional Medal of Honor, as well as four Navy Crosses. While willing, even eager, to go in harm's way--e.g., by searching for prey on the surface rather than submerged--Fluckey was not reckless. On his watch, no man aboard the Barb earned a Purple Heart (awarded for having been wounded)--a stunning accomplishment at a time when half of the silent service's craft failed to make round trips. Derring-do apart, the author tells of the terrors of depth-charge attacks (known to submariners as ``thunder below'') and the satisfaction of rescuing POWs whose ship had been torpedoed. Fluckey even recalls learning where Midway's gooney birds go during their seven-year absences from this remote, albeit strategic, outpost--a discovery he duly reported to the National Geographic Society a couple of weeks before V-J Day. A standout in a field crowded with first-rate entries. (Fifty photographs; six maps.)

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1992
ISBN: 0-252-01925-3
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Univ. of Illinois
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1992