Thunder Below!: The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II

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Overview

The thunderous roar of exploding depth charges was a familiar and comforting sound to the crew members of the USS Barb, who frequently found themselves somewhere between enemy fire and Davy Jones's locker. Under the leadership of her fearless skipper, Captain Gene Fluckey, the Barb sank the greatest tonnage of any American sub in World War II. At the same time, the Barb did far more than merely sink ships - she changed forever the way submarines stalk and kill their prey. This is a gripping adventure chock-full ...
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Overview

The thunderous roar of exploding depth charges was a familiar and comforting sound to the crew members of the USS Barb, who frequently found themselves somewhere between enemy fire and Davy Jones's locker. Under the leadership of her fearless skipper, Captain Gene Fluckey, the Barb sank the greatest tonnage of any American sub in World War II. At the same time, the Barb did far more than merely sink ships - she changed forever the way submarines stalk and kill their prey. This is a gripping adventure chock-full of "you-are-there" moments. Fluckey has drawn on logs, reports, letters, interviews, and a recently discovered illegal diary kept by one of his torpedomen. And in a fascinating twist, he uses archival documents from the Japanese Navy to give its version of events. The unique story of the Barb begins with its men, who had the confidence to become unbeatable. Each team helped develop innovative ideas, new tactics, and new strategies. All strove for personal excellence, and success became contagious. Instead of lying in wait under the waves, the USS Barb pursued enemy ships on the surface, attacking in the swift and precise style of torpedo boats. She was the first sub to use rocket missiles and to creep up on enemy convoys at night, joining the flank escort line from astern, darting in and out as she sank ships up the column. Surface-cruising, diving only to escape, "Luckey Fluckey" relentlessly patrolled the Pacific, driving his boat and crew to their limits. There can be no greater contrast to modern warfare's long-distance, video-game style of battle than the exploits of the captain and crew of the USS Barb, where the sub, out of ammunition, actually rammed an enemy ship until it sank. Thunder Below! is a first-rate, true-life, inspirational story of the courage and heroism of ordinary men under fire.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. (Oct.)
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252066702
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 225,412
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2013

    very interesting! Very entertaining. A must read!

    Old Navy spirit with "Can Do" hands on talents. These are the stories tall tales are made of, but they are true and show what sailors are capable of doing with little resources. It also shows how officers should lead. As a 22 year retired Navy veteran I can relate. These are our heroes.

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  • Posted August 28, 2012

    Absolutely riveting. I could not put this book down. I borrow

    Absolutely riveting. I could not put this book down. I borrowed it
    from the library but now I am buying it because I could read it many
    times without tiring of its tale. Buy it, read it, you won't regret it!

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Thunder Below by RADM Eugene Flucky

    The man is quoted late in the book as he reflected on his five WW2 war patrols,"there were never really any problems, just solutions and other options." For each of his first through third war patrols, Flucky was awarded the Navy Cross. For his fouth, the Congressional Medal of Honor. For his fifth, the Navy Cross. His mission and his men were always foremost. He pioneered rocket bombardment of the Japanese coast and blew up a train with a shore party. They escaped from the worst the IJN could through at them without the loss of a sailor. A remarkable leader, tactician, innovator, educator (USNA), humanist, and All-American hero. This was his autobiography. What more can you say about a man who accomplishes all this, has a sterling post-war career, then retires to run orphanages in Portugal. A must for every sailor, midshipman, and naval officer. Inspirational for anyone else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2008

    A 'Must Read' for the WW II Fan

    If you like reading about the Navy in WW II, this book about Gene Fluckey and the U.S.S. Barb is a must! Only 'Silent Victory' (the history of the submarine in the Pacific Theater) is rated, by me, higher than this book. Silent Victory offers a lot of detail, facts, minutia and a plenty of action for interest and intrigue in the WW II submarine, that is premier book to read. However, Thunder Below should be the next book on your list. It is action packed in each and every chapter. The reader can feel the heat of the steamy boat, the tense moments, and the excitement as 'Bam' is heard many times thoughout the book as a torpedo strikes its target. There is a lot of Navy/submarine jargon but that does not detract from the fast moving reading. Gene Fluckey, as far as I'm concerned, is the father of the ballistic submarine and the Navy's elite Seals.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2001

    Hail the 'Barbarians'

    Rear Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey's account of the exploits of USS BARB and it's crew during his 5 patrols in command is superb. I have been an avid reader of submarine history for almost forty years and have not read a single book or article that surpasses it. Fluckey's compelling prose transports the reader from fun and high-jinks at the The Royal Hawaiian to the cramped quarters of a WWII submarine on patrol, where death can be a miscalculation away and where victories are celebrated with cake and by 'Splicing the main brace'. With each passing year the ranks of these brave 'Barbarians' grow smaller but, in THUNDER BELOW!, their captain has left an enduring memorial to their skill, their courage, and the fortune that so often attends the bold. Read it! If it does hold you in thrall you have no soul.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

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