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Into the Dark Water: The Story of Three Officers and PT-109 Hardcover – May 1, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Casemate; First Edition edition (May 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161200234X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612002347
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #867,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John J. Domagalski (www.pacificwarauthor.com) is the author of Into the Dark Water: The Story of Three Officers and PT-109 (Casemate, 2014). The book uses the stories of three young naval officers to tell the World War II saga of the warship made famous by John F. Kennedy.

He is also the author of two other books. Sunk in Kula Gulf: The Final Voyage of the U.S.S. Helena and the Incredible Story of her Survivors in World War II (Potomac, 2012), tells the amazing little-known story of heroism and survival at sea that followed Helena's sinking in 1943. Lost at Guadalcanal: The Final Battles of the Astoria and Chicago as Described by Survivors and in Official Reports (McFarland, 2010), follows two World War II American warships through one of the U.S. Navy's greatest naval defeats. His articles have appeared in World War II History, Naval History, and World War II Quarterly Magazines.

Domagalski's fascination with history began at a young age by building model ships and reading books about World War II. The interest eventually grew into research and writing. He has interviewed scores of veterans who served in the Pacific during World War II. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and lives near Chicago.

Customer Reviews

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Wise on June 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of the book is a misnomer. One would think that it was a personalized story of the three officers that served and commanded the PT109. That's why I bought it in the first place. But alas, not to be. The book is not very long - 264 pages. There are 34 photographs in the centre of the book. Five of them are of one of the subjects of the title; the PT109 and none of these photos are rare. And there are another five photos of the other subjects the book, the three commanding officers of the boat. The other 24 are generic wartime photos of the PT boats. Right there that will give you an idea to the extent of detail that author devotes to the boat and the officers. Most of the content focuses on the PT boat battles. At Guadalcanal some involve the 109 crew, most do not. And when writing about the battles, the author spends too much time describing the overall strategy involved. He writes about the Japanese sailors' experiences. He writes about air battles. He really doesn't devote a lot of space to the main characters of the book. I was disappointed. I truly do admire the men and women who served during WWII. Their sacrifices were great and many. But after reading this book, it was plainly obvious that the wartime naval careers of the three men who commanded the PT109 is not extensive enough to fill a book. So the author included a lot of "fluff" to fill the pages. I personally found his writing style to be flat and unimaginative. The book couldn't hold my interest and I found myself skimming ahead very quickly. There are many, many other PT boat related tomes that have told this story first and so much better. I hate it when a book's title misleads the reader and this is most certainly the case here. After I finished reading it, I gave it to the Secondhand Store. It doesn't belong in my library.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very interesting reading. The author's in-depth research and excellent writing skills describes the serious concerns of the early war years in the Pacific and the critical role the small warships played. It is a thorough study of the PT boats and the character of the men who served on them, their frustrations with faulty torpedoes and the stress involved with dark night time battles. The importance of the "lookouts" and the help received from the island natives in rescue operations. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Pound for pound, the PT-109 is probably the most famous warship ever. Yet before its fateful encounter with the Japanese DD Amagiri on 2 August 1943, the Elco-built Motor Torpedo Boat had a notable combat career under two previous commanders. John Domagalski's INTO THE DARK WATER, THE STORY OF THREE OFFICERS AND PT-109 tells the fascinating tale of that ill-starred warship.

Prior to JFK's assuming command in April, PT-109 saw combat in the waters off Guadalcanal under Rollin Westholm and Bryant Larson. Domagalski does an excellent job interweaving the personal backstories of the three officers and -109's construction and combat history up to its fateful encounter with the Tokyo Express in August 1943. Likewise, he follows the subsequent naval and civilian careers of Kennedy, Larson and Westholm. It's a compelling story well-told; Domagalski's a gifted writer.

A photo insert includes pix of the -109, various PT boats, JFK and the other COs, etc. A number of maps are included which are quite useful in placing the various PT-109 combats.

Anyone with an interest in Pacific Theater naval battles will enjoy Domagalski's book. It's exciting, informative and insightful; a great read. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before reading this book, all I knew about PT boats was that Kennedy commanded the PT-109 and McHale of “McHale’s Navy” commanded the PT-73. After reading the book, I know how the PT weapon system was made, why it was made, how it was deployed into theater, its armament, and its role in the war in the Pacific. Domagalski follows the PT-109 on its many nighttime missions in the Solomon Islands under each of her three commanders: Bryant Larson, Rollin Westholm, and John F. Kennedy. The book gives insight to the crew’s experience from routine patrols to the intensity and confusion they faced during encounters with the enemy. It culminates with a detailed account of the boat’s final mission and the daring actions taken by Kennedy and his crew to survive.

Domagalski gives the PT-109’s story context with background about the use of small boats in the warfare, the production of the PT’s, and the important role the boats played in undermining Japanese operations and securing the islands south Pacific for the Allies. This is an informative read for history buffs or anyone interested in getting a better appreciation of the PT’s and this segment of WWII naval operations in the Pacific.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Into the Dark Water: The Story of Three Officers and Pt-109 by John Domagalski chronicles the life of the most famous boat in World War Two. Most Americans are aware of the late history of the war ship; but Captain John Kennedy wasn’t the only officer to serve with honor and distinction aboard the navy vessel. Officers Bryant Larson and Rollin Westholm were in charge of PT-109 in the early days of the war when the Japanese dominated the Pacific. Their efforts to disrupt enemy supply lines and carry out rescue missions during the battle for Guadalcanal were heroic in turning the tide in favor of the Allies. This is the story of bravery, survival, and perseverance.

Into the Dark Water is a well-written, concise account of the two-year history of PT-109 from beginning to end. It was a quick, effective read. I enjoyed the book as it placed the famous boat into the larger context of World War II. The maps were helpful in understanding important details of various battles. I love stories of American heroes. I recommend Into the Dark Water to anyone interested in the history of World War II.

I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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