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Thunder Below!: The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II Hardcover – July 1, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0252019258 ISBN-10: 0252019253 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 444 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; First Edition edition (July 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252019253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252019258
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 7.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The USS Barb was the Navy's most successful submarine in WW II. Operating mainly in the South China Sea, the Formosa Strait and the forever mysterious Sea of Okhotsk, the Barb sank at least 29 Japanese ships and climaxed its final patrol with an audacious commando raid on land during which the crew destroyed a 16-car train. This was the sole U.S. military landing on Japanese soil during the war. Drawing on ship's logs, letters, interviews, diaries and his own memory, Fluckey, a retired rear admiral, reconstructs every attack by and against the sub from its eighth through its 12th and last patrol. This was the 15-month period when he served as the Barb's skipper, winning the Medal of Honor and four Navy Crosses for his daring exploits. 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. Photos. Military Book Club main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Medal of Honor holder Fluckey relates the story of his wartime command, U.S. submarine Barb , in a well-told and -researched narrative of undersea resourcefulness and courage. Barb set an unparalleled record of exploits in the naval war against Japan, and Fluckey has used both U.S. and Japanese naval records to re-create the vessel's story. The quality of his writing is far above the usual wartime memoir. This title will appeal to readers of both military history and Tom Clancy-style technothrillers. Highly recommended for World War II collections. Military Bk. Club main selection.-- Stanley Planton, Ohio Univ.
Chillicothe Lib.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Well written and a true story!
William E. Mitchell
I consider this the best written and most enjoyable book I have read on submarine's in the Pacific in WWII.
Jay H. Matthews
I couldn't put the book down until it was finished, I look forward to reading more.
chris sultana

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Bryan MacKinnon on September 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you read but one WWII submarine memoir, be it this one. Far from a dispassionate account of the exploits of a successful submarine skipper, with Thunder Below, you are there. I've read many a book about submarines; but Fluckey's lively and coherent style makes it much easier to understand life aboard a WWII sub. Most other books, O'Kane's for example, I'd recommend for students of history or submarine warfare. Not this one. Anyone who likes a good tale, be it fiction or non-fiction, could like this one. And it's not just his account he presents either; it's also richly filled with accounts from the Japanese, other American subs, and an illegal diary kept by one of his crewman. So a balanced, all around perspective is given that is lacking in other memoirs. Fluckey's presentation of an American wolf pack attack that decimated a Japanese convoy unknowingly filled with Allied POW's (and some of their subsequent rescue) is one of the most moving stories I've ever read.
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By C. Peter Jorgensen on January 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Everybody rates this book EXCELLENT except for one reviewer on this web site who must be one of those sub skippers who kept his boat under at 60 ft day and night. I've read about 20 WWII submarine books and Gene Fluckey's book about the Barb is one of the best. It's the equal to Dick O'Kane's book on the U.S.S. Tang. Both were outstanding submariners and both later went on to become Admirals. BOTH skippers won the Congressional Medal of Honor, something awarded to only 7 WWII sub skippers out of more than 200, and 4 of the 7 were posthumous. Gene Fluckey was one of those who received the medal for daring and successful action, not for going down with his ship. They don't give the medal out lightly, especially in the United States Navy.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Languedoc on May 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is the firsthand account of the World War II submarine, USS Barb, written by the skipper recollecting his 15 months of command. It is a fascinating account detailing the audacious exploits of his ship and crew. You are not going to find any plot twists and intrigue popular among fictional seagoing stories, but the book is filled with the details of real life characters and their bold and exemplary accomplishments. As I read this book I had to remind myself that this was a true story and these people were real.

Fluckey's narrative is interlaced with other perspectives of the same incidents including the Japanese describing their reception of the business end of the USS Barb. The description of the crew members that paddled to shore to place a scuttling charge under the tracks to blow up a train was one of the most compelling sequences I have read. It was filled with light humor and suspense. This would have made extraordinary fiction if it had not actually occurred. The Japanese account of the incident included a report that some people thought they saw a man in a trench coat smoking a cigarette under a dock. When I read this I thought that they had been reading too many spy novels.

Eugene B. Fluckey writes for his readers, filling the pages with fine points from all angles making the sequence of events appear to unfold as I am sure they actually did. He includes his personal feelings towards the crew, his boat and how his experiences shaped his life. There are many firsthand accounts of historical events, but few are captured so eloquently and thoughtfully as they are in this book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Datsmeharse on August 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book from Amazon after reading the reviews here -- a big thank you to all you reviewers! Adm. Fluckey does a terrific job of recreating the tension and detailing the actions of his wonderful ship and crew; unlike more static narratives, this one comes alive with the voices of these heroes. Adm. Fluckey deserves special praise for the detailed research he did as well, tracking down even the Japanese radio messages to help illuminate his amazing story. A must-read!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have just completed reading "Thunder Below" and "Clear the Bridge" back to back and being an ex-submariner the contrasts between the two commanding officers is remarkable. I couldn't put Thunder Below down until it was finished. Adm. Fluckey was a commanding officer every sailor dreams of serving under. I just missed serving under him when he was COMSUBPAC in 1966. The combination of the patrol reports and the illegal diary along with remembered conversations puts the reader in the middle of the action. The exploits of the Barb and her crew contains the ingredients of a great movie, and I understand Steven Spielberg has purchased the rights. This review is more of a salute to the Barb and her crew than a book review, and Adm. Fluckeys writing style is to be creditied. Thanks Admiral for a great book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mike on March 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the best first person account of submarine operations in the Pacific I have read to date. Adm. Fluckey does a great job of taking the reader through each of the patrols and how the Barb truly does revolutionize submarine tactics as well as strategies. If you own just one book on the Silent Service operating in the Pacific, then but this book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I have read Thunder Below ! twice and find it is hard to put down. I know that the book is factual because I was there, in fact I was one of the eight men that made the landing to blow up the train, and I served on the Barb for six war patrols. Admiral Fluckey was an outstanding skipper and his crew would follow him anywhere.
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