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A Tale of Two Subs: An Untold Story of World War II, Two Sister Ships, and Extraordinary Heroism
     

A Tale of Two Subs: An Untold Story of World War II, Two Sister Ships, and Extraordinary Heroism

3.5 24
by Jonathan J. McCullough
 

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On November 19, 1943, the submarine USS Sculpin, under attack by the Japanese, slid below the waves for the last time in what would become one of the most remarkable stories in U.S. Naval history. Not only did several crewmembers survive the sinking - an extremely rare event in World War II submarine warfare - but several were aboard a Japanese aircraft

Overview

On November 19, 1943, the submarine USS Sculpin, under attack by the Japanese, slid below the waves for the last time in what would become one of the most remarkable stories in U.S. Naval history. Not only did several crewmembers survive the sinking - an extremely rare event in World War II submarine warfare - but several were aboard a Japanese aircraft carrier enroute to a POW camp when it was in turn torpedoed and sunk by the Sculpin's sister ship, the USS Sailfish.

At the end of World War II, several unlikely survivors would tell a tale of endurance against these amazing reversals of fortune. For one officer in particular, who knew that being captured could have meant losing the war for the allies, his struggle was not in surviving, but in sealing his own fate in a heartbreaking act of heroism which culminated in the nation's highest tribute, the Medal of Honor.

Sculpin Lt. Commander John Phillip Cromwell was one of the few who knew that American Naval Intelligence had succeeded in cracking Japan's top-secret codes. Cromwell also knew that if the Japanese confirmed this by torturing him, it would force Naval Intelligence to change their encryption, which would potentially change the course of the war. This is Cromwell's story as well.

The incredible interconnection of the Sculpin and the Sailfish has been thoroughly researched by Jonathan McCullough. Through access to the few living survivors, scores of oral histories, never-before translated Japanese war documents, and interviews with Navy veterans, McCullough delivers a gripping and, intimate account for the reader.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

McCullough, an editor at Lyons Press, debuts as an author with this disappointing popular history of WWII submarine warfare. The USS Sculpin and USS Sailfish were built "side by side" at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Both subs were assigned to the Pacific Fleet, where, in 1943, the Sculpin was sunk by the Japanese destroyer Yamagumo. The Japanese transferred 41 survivors to two aircraft carriers-the Unyo and the Chuyo-bound for Japan. Unaware of the Sculpin' s fate and acting on intelligence from the naval code breakers, the Sailfish intercepted and sank the Chuyo; only one of the Sculpin' s men on board survived. He and the Unyo's contingent of Americans spent the remainder of the war in Japanese captivity. Not only is the link between the two American subs tenuous, but the author tries with limited success to assimilate an account of the U.S. Navy's code-breaking operation that resulted in "hot tips to the submarine command." The account of the Sculpin' s sinking is harrowing, but it's the singular highlight in a tedious narrative weighed down with extraneous material. (May 13)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Spirited literary reportage of life-and-death battles, heroism and failure aboard two U.S. submarines in World War II's Pacific theater. On November 19, 1943, the USS Sculpin was damaged beyond repair during a naval battle off the coast of Japan. Most of the crew was taken prisoner. The captain scuttled the submarine, going down with his ship-and with the secrets he held about the Navy's capacity to break Japanese radio signal codes. Two weeks later, the USS Sailfish torpedoed a Japanese carrier that happened to hold half the Sculpin survivors, en route to a POW camp. The story of this encounter is the culmination of first-time author McCullough's far-reaching military history. Yet the bulk-and real meat-of the book takes place in the years before. We learn of the two ships' early patrols, successes and failures, day-to-day routines, nerve-fraying attack and defense maneuvers during battle. McCullough employs novelistic techniques, taking us into submarine control towers, torpedo rooms, sweaty living quarters and the quiet chambers of Naval code breakers, standing them beside Japanese spies and POW camp torturers. He surely had to reimagine some events, but his compelling narrative is solidly based on information from patrol reports, eyewitness accounts, interviews with surviving sailors, diaries, notebooks, letters sent home, etc. And anyone who thinks the nail-biting suspense isn't credible in this kind of nonfiction clearly hasn't read James Calvert's classic memoir Silent Running (1995). The Battle of Midway is one of several oft-told Pacific war stories rehashed here, but this background is required to make clear later events enveloping the Sculpin and Sailfish. A natural formilitary historians, war buffs and even teenagers looking for an authentic adventure story. Agent: Sorche Fairbank/Fairbank Literary Representation
Marcus Luttrell
"A TALE OF TWO SUBS just goes to show you that the SEALs are not the only brave men in dark waters. I am always humbled by the actions of the men who fought before me, and will forever bow my head in respect to the unsung heroes of World War II. This is a must read for any patriot."
From the Publisher
"A TALE OF TWO SUBS just goes to show you that the SEALs are not the only brave men in dark waters. I am always humbled by the actions of the men who fought before me, and will forever bow my head in respect to the unsung heroes of World War II. This is a must read for any patriot."
Marcus Luttrell, New York Times Bestselling Author of LONE SURVIVOR

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446537070
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
05/13/2008
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
267,103
File size:
328 KB

Meet the Author

JONATHAN J. MCCULLOUGH has served for many years as an editor at Lyons Press, and has edited numerous books on a variety of nonfiction subjects, including World War II.

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A Tale of Two Subs: An Untold Story of World War II, Two Sister Ships, and Extraordinary Heroism 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very well written. It seemed the action was unfolding before my eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Johnathan McCullough is really a good writer on the suject. He knows what he is writing about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not just a boring set of facts. Author interweaves the incredible accomplishment of breaking the Japanese code (and puts it in understandable perspective that makes this feat astounding) with the missions of two sister boats (as submarines are called). He tells the stories as if you were there (conversations, commands) and along the way you realize how much so many men gave up for our country. Great suspense as the subs become the hunted on several missions.
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Well, I haven't read it yet but I might get the book soon so I hope to read it.