cover image The War Below: The Story of Three Submarines that Battled Japan

The War Below: The Story of Three Submarines that Battled Japan

James Scott. Simon & Schuster, $28 (480p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7683-2

After the attacks on Pearl Harbor, US Admiral Charles Lockwood (commander of the Pacific submarine fleet during WWII) declared that since all Japanese merchantmen in the Pacific were indirectly aiding their native country in its war effort, they were henceforth to be considered legitimate enemy targets. What followed was unrestricted submarine warfare on boats flying the circle of the sun. Scott (The Attack on the Liberty), a journalist turned naval historian, combines patrol reports and extensive interviews with former submariners to reconstruct the achievements of three of the most successful U.S. submarines: Silversides, Drum, and Tang. Submarines were primarily manned by young and hastily trained crews, and missions were fraught with challenges, from handling defective torpedoes to ad hoc appendectomies, not to mention the sheer danger of underwater battle—over the course of the war, nearly 3,500 American submariners were killed. But their efforts were not for naught: as the U.S. Strategic Bomb Survey had it, “the war against shipping... was perhaps the most decisive single factor in the collapse of the Japanese economy.” Scott presents the submariners aboard his chosen trio of ships as a team, brought together to do a high-risk job that “pushed boat[s] and men to the limit,” and their story is an exciting one. 8-page b&w insert. Agent: Wendy Strothman, the Strothman Agency LLC. (May)