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Thunder Below!: The USS *Barb* Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II First Paperback Edition Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 486 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0252066702
ISBN-10: 0252066707
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Thunder Below!: The USS *Barb* Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II
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  • Clear the Bridge!: The War Patrols of the U.S.S. Tang
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  • Submarine! The Classic Account of Undersea Combat in World War II
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; First Paperback Edition edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252066707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252066702
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (486 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you read but one WWII submarine memoir, be it this one.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First, primary sources of such passion and insight are to be sought by any reader interested in warfare from a front line perspective. The author and "his Barb" compiled a masterful record in the Pacific. The book chronicles the Barb's 8th through 12th patrols under the author's command. In so doing, there is a fair balance between details of various operations and attacks with occasional, funny anecdotes. The author has done thorough post-war research, most affectively providing content from contemporary Japanese reports in parallel with his own narrative.

There is excitement I this book. The rescue of 14 Australian and British POWs, the raid at Namkwan, the rocket attacks, and the train sabotage on the Karacuto Peninsula are gripping page turners. Beware, however, that just as most submarine approaches and attacks involved repetition and tedium, so too does the narrative.

The writing style is casual, sometimes cliché ridden, and much of the quoted conversation seems unlikely given it is not couched in a real conversational language or style. At times the book reads more like a prospective movie script than history. The author tends to stick to the facts. There doesn't seem to be much soul searching here. And while the author is justifiably complimentary of his crew and seems self-effacing of his and his boat's performance, in other places he comes across as smug (e.g., I can't say we were great, but...). On several occasions he writes that Barb was never in competition with other submarines, only itself. But in the Epilogue he writes, "No submarine can or should claim to be the greatest, particularly if her crew is lost." This is a careless or not so veiled dismissal of great records by boats such as the USS Wahoo.
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