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Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan 1st Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
In Clay Blair, Jr.'s Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War against Japan, reissued by the U.S. Naval Institute (the same publishing company to release a Tom Clancy novel) after several decades of being out of print, is a fascinating and detailed look at the officers, sailors and submarines of the Silent Service and their nearly four-year-long campaign against Japan's Imperial Navy and her Merchant Fleet.
Blair, himself a former submariner, pulls no punches and details the many difficulties faced by the American submarine force. Sub skippers who in peacetime were among the best often failed the test of battle. The S-class boats were too slow, had fewer torpedo tubes than the newer T and Gato-class fleet boats. Like Japan's submarine force, targeting priority was on capital fleet units (battleships, carriers and cruisers). Worst of all, the Mark XIV torpedo, the Navy's wonder weapon, proved to be less than wonderful until Admiral Charles Lockwood, Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet (ComSubPac) and other officers fixed several defects in the arming mechanism.Read more ›
Thankfully, this book is now available in softcover after years of being out of print. My only complaint is that the Naval Institute Press did not make an effort to clarify and update some of the information (classified and otherwise) that has come to light since the initial publishing of this book in 1975 (hence 4 Stars out of 5). Sadly, Mr. Blair was not around to do such work as he passed on in 1998. Still, all in all, this book must be read for those seeking a full picture of the Pacific War. Hopefully, some ambitious naval historian will take advantage of Mr. Blair's work and recently available archives to craft a contemporary history of U.S. submarine warfare during World War II.
Well, it's all in there, plus detailed tables, numbers, all you could possibly want. If you're interested in this subject, or at least in WWII, there will be no better book, don't hesitate to buy it!
My only criticism, though, is readability. Don't misunderstand me, it's well written, but there is too much of everyting, simply. Too many names of unknown one-time submarine commanders, too many names of less important staffers, and so on. And while the book's chronological order of events may be the most obvious choice, it further dilutes information about specific persons. You will frequently wonder "Captain XYZ, my God, who was that? I've read that name before, but in which section?" It's no easy-to-read childrens' book, that's for certain. Others than naval enthusiast might better be advised to look elsewhere...
The drawbacks to the book is that it is heavy and even though it's a quality paperback, you have to use it with care. But the brave men who died on their various missions to defeat Japan live on in this book, and thus every time you consult this book, you light a little vigil for their souls.
Three things struck me while reading this book:
(1) Submarines are of relatively little value if their primary weapon, the torpedo, is ineffectual. Torpedoes, being self-contained and self-propelled weapons systems, must operate reliably under all conditions. Although boats that were then in use had been armed with naval guns, using such rifled weapons required submarines to operate on the surface, thereby largely negating the boats' stealth capability.
Silent Victory describes in detail how the various torpedo problems encountered by the fleet were eventually addressed. The book also paints a poignant portrait of the quandaries submariners faced due to the initial lack of torpedoes in the theatre, the highly disappointing performance of the torpedoes due to design defects, and the resulting negative impact on morale whenever a textbook approach on unsuspecting targets resulted in no sinkings.
(2) With the benefit of hindsight, Mr. Blair points out that the strategic interdiction of Japanese commerce could have dramatically abbreviated the war had the military brass thought of positioning submarines in the Luzon Strait, where numerous convoys and men-of-war transited. Copious accounts of submarines being sent to areas where warships were detected (usually through code-breaking) and then returning home empty-handed are found throughout the book; it is impossible to wade through these accounts without experiencing a sense of frustration.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, hard to put down. It arrived in excellent condition..Published 18 days ago by Frank
This book was written by Clay Blair, a historian who served on United States submarines in World War Two. It is quite an old work, published in the late '70's. Read morePublished 2 months ago by john s.
Singly the best book on the WW II submarine efforts against the Japanese. Incredibly well researched, very readable, and IMHO a must for the WWII historian.Published 4 months ago by Jane T. Sibley
Good comprehensive chronicle of the American submarine campaign against Japan. The downside of being comprehensive is lack of great detail for some of the amazing patrols. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Don Jordan
Very detailed account, obviously gleaned from the after action reports. Blair pulls no punches and offers candid assessments of all the main characters. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book was a disappointment to me. It failed to educate me on the tactics, operations and strategies of the U.S. Navy's submarine service during the Pacific War. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Charlie Watanabe