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Full Fathom Five: A Daughter's Search Hardcover – April 29, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Enter one Ms. Mary Lee Coe Fowler.
Full Fathom Five: A Daughter's Search is the story of a daughter's search to connect with her father, submarine Cmdr. James "Red" Coe, who apparently perished with his crew on the sub Cisco while on her first war patrol. Widowed with two young children and pregnant with Mary Lee when Jim Coe was reported missing, her mother remarries quickly. The marriage was not a happy one, and though the author does not overly dwell on her "war-orphaned" childhood, my heart went out to the young Mary Lee. One passage early on describes Mary Lee finding some old, but fancy clothing hidden away in an attic; secret remainders of a happier time for her parents, their honeymoon. The ghosts of Jim and of a much different Rachael Coe are physically palpable in the dust-moted air of the attic and I can visualize the scene perfectly in my mind.
The story is a terrific combination - part romance, history, and personal biography. Written with just the right amount of technical explanations, it gives the layman an easy understanding of the Pacific war front and the fledgling submarine division of the U.S. Navy.
Mary Lee's persistent and detailed research rewards her readers with many individual insights from people who lived through these traumatic events and adds a special richness to the story.Read more ›
Although my knowledge of WWII in Europe is well-rounded, I had very little knowledge of the submarines in the Pacific. In layman's terms, this author gave me a deep understanding and pride for all of the men that served there.
Fowler's attempt to "construct" a father she never knew was both poignant and thought provoking. Far from placing blame or being maudlin, this author comes to discover her own identity....and in doing so, she allows her readers the priviledge of also getting to know Jim Coe. One very special man.
By the end of the story....I knew without doubt that this author is indeed her father's daughter.
I highly recommend this wonderful and refreshing read!
Author Mary Lee Coe Fowler - born after the death of her father, World War II submarine skipper Commander Jim Coe - effectively brings him to life (in less than 300 pages) in this combination of memoir and history, using dozens of interviews, careful research, and a frank examination of how her own feelings about the Navy and things military evolved over the course of the book. But most of all how the reality of her father took shape.
After the death of her mother in the 1990s, a photograph of Fowler's father with her older brother and sister stirred old longings for him. From there she begins a ten-year journey to the completion of Full Fathom Five. The journey takes her through museums and archives, libraries and Navy bases. She draws from Japanese wartime history and detailed logs and records, as well as those of the US Navy. She brings along her older siblings - each with a slightly different need to have this story told. She talks to friends of her parents and veterans who served with and under her father.
The result is seamless: a beautifully written combination of history, journalism, humor, terrifying action, resulting in the picture of her father which emerges.
I was held by the story Fowler tells. I am retired now, but in my own five years in the Navy, followed by a professional career which included 20 years as a Navy contractor, I knew and worked with a number of former and present submarine officers - their service ranging from World War II to nuclear submarines. All of them would agree with me regarding the thoroughness of Fowler's research and the authenticity of the story which emerges. And everyone will be taken by the portrait she paints of a previously unknown father.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well-written and wonderfully honest, I enjoyed this book, though I did get a little tired of tagging after submarines.Published 16 months ago by Catharine S. Dalton
as i was a good friend of mary lee in early 70s
am a bit prejudiced but astounded.
knew her lack of knowledge about her bio father
bothered her and am glad she had... Read more
For some reason submarines, and especially WWII submarine stories, always interested me. Maybe because my dad was a Marine in WWII and my mother a Navy WAVE medic. Read morePublished on December 25, 2009 by Michele
extremely disappointing especially after reading the 5-star raves (which compelled me to purchase the book). Read morePublished on November 22, 2008 by Don Kochi
Mary Fowler has written a book which suceeds admirably on so many levels that it should be read by so many readers! Read morePublished on August 29, 2008 by John W. Dacey
Whether your reading interest lies primarily with memoir, history, or investigative journalism, Full Fathom Five: A Daughter's Search by Mary Lee Coe Fowler will satisfy. Read morePublished on July 2, 2008 by Nancy Jensen
After all this time and so much that has been written and filmed about WWII, how could there be more to tell? But, Mary Lee has done it. Read morePublished on June 29, 2008 by Moira
Although this is about a submariner Commander father, who was lost several months before his daughter's birth, the author's arresting account of bringing her father's character,... Read morePublished on June 29, 2008 by Alice Sheppard
As a teen growing up in the '50's, I read every book I could on the Navy, and over the years have read many more. Read morePublished on June 28, 2008 by John B. Bruneel Sr.