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Hellcats: The Epic Story of World War II's Most Daring Submarine Raid Hardcover – November 2, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A worthwhile addition to most naval collections, this is the uncensored story of the 1945 penetration of the Sea of Japan by nine U.S. submarines. Penetrating heavy minefields with the aid of a new short-range (and not wholly debugged) sonar, the submarines sank 28 Japanese ships in attacking Japan’s connection to the Asian mainland. Having received extraordinary cooperation from the operation’s survivors and their descendants, Sasgen gives eloquent and accessible accounts for the general reader of the development of the FM sonar, the picking of the submarines, and Operation Barney itself. He also gives a memorable and moving portrait of Laurence Edge, captain of Bonefish, the one submarine lost, and of his family. He suggests that the operation was not really worthwhile, coming as late in the war as June 1945, yet admits that Admiral Lockwood, commanding Pacific Fleet submarines, probably could not have known that. Deserves the commendation well done. --Roland Green


"Sasgen vividly recounts the pulsating drama of the Hellcats... well-written, engaging, and fills in the last chapter of the Navy's submarine war against Japan."
Naval History

"A worthwhile addition to most naval collections...Sasgen gives eloquent and accessible accounts for the general reader of the development of the FM sonar, the picking of the submarines, and Operation Barney itself...memorable and moving ...Deserves the commendation
well done."

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ NAL; 1st edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0451231368
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0451231369
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.5 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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SASGEN on SASGEN: So, where were you born? Evanston, Illinois.

You’re a visual artist who also writes. Yes, I graduated from the University of the Arts with a degree in design and illustration. In the U.S. Navy I used my art training to prepare for a civilian career.

And then? And then, with my wife, Karen, I had a design studio in Philadelphia for almost thirty-five years. We produced print materials for corporate and institutional clients.

You’re also a photographer, aren’t you? Yes, my photographs have been in exhibitions throughout the United States. Some are in private and museum collections in the U.S. and Europe. I’ve taught photography and I’ve curated exhibitions, most recently in northeast Florida where I live.

Okay, so why did you start writing? Well, my dad served in submarines in the Pacific during World War II. Consequently, I’ve had a lifelong interest in submarines. After he died I saw that his experiences had the makings of a great adventure story. I started writing what became “Red Scorpion,” my first published book in 1995. After that I just kept going. Since then I’ve written works of naval fiction and nonfiction set in both World War II and the cold war, even a novel about a German U-boat.

Is writing about submarines hard to do if you aren’t a submariner? Sure, the research is demanding. You have to understand complex machinery and how it works, and how submarines carry out operations. I pride myself on getting the details right. You can’t fake it. Experts—especially guys who have served in subs—will spot mistakes in a second. You also have to have a feel for the subject and imagine yourself aboard a submarine as a member of the crew.

What’s the hardest part of the research you do? I think straightening out conflicting information. Also, finding documents that can help explain issues that aren’t clear for one reason or another due to different points of view or missing details. Sometimes, though, you have to use your own judgment and go with what you think is right.

Okay, you’ve written books about subs, what are you working on now? I’ve completed one of two novels set in post World War II Berlin and cold war Eastern Europe.

Why such a radical change in subject and locale? I wanted to write a long, complicated, multi-layered work of fiction that would challenge my abilities and test my writing skills. One that would force me to develop in greater depth characters and concepts that my previous books couldn’t support.

Did the experience you gained researching submarines help with the research you did for these new books? Yes. Both novels required enormous amounts of research to bring the story and characters to life, to make, for instance, postwar Berlin a fully realized setting in one of the stories.

Then, I should ask, did you write the books you wanted to write? And what’s the title of the first new novel? Yes, I did. “The Days of Killing.”

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