Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

by Catherine Musemeche
Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

by Catherine Musemeche


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"Magnificently researched, brilliantly written, Lethal Tides is immensely entertaining and reads like an action novel. Catherine Musemeche has brought to life the incredible work of the scientists and researchers who made such a remarkable contribution to America’s war effort in the Pacific theater during WWII.” —Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy, Ret.), #1 New York Times bestselling author of Make Your Bed and The Hero Code

Lethal Tides tells the story of the virtually unknown Mary Sears, “the first oceanographer of the Navy,” whose groundbreaking oceanographic research led the U.S. to victory in the Pacific theater during World War II. 

In Lethal Tides, Catherine Musemeche weaves together science, biography, and military history in the compelling story of an unsung woman who had a dramatic effect on the U.S. Navy’s success against Japan in WWII, creating an intelligence-gathering juggernaut based on the new science of oceanography. 

When World War II began, the U.S. Navy was unprepared to enact its island-hopping strategy to reach Japan. Anticipating tides, planning for coral reefs, and preparing for enemy fire was new ground for them, and with lives at stake it was ground that had to be covered quickly. Mary Sears, a marine biologist, was the untapped talent they turned to, and she along with a team of quirky marine scientists were instrumental in turning the tide of the war in the United States’ favor.

The Sears team analyzed ocean currents, made wave and tide predictions, identified zones of bioluminescence, mapped deep-water levels where submarines could hide and gathered information about the topography and surf conditions surrounding the Pacific islands and Japan. Sears was frequently called upon to make middle-of-the-night calculations for last-minute top-secret landing destinations and boldly predicted optimal landing times and locations for amphibious invasions.

In supplying these crucial details, Sears and her team played a major role in averting catastrophes that plagued earlier amphibious landings, like the disastrous Tarawa, and cleared a path to Okinawa, the last major battle of World War II.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062991690
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 08/23/2022
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 338,806
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Catherine “Kate” Musemeche trained at one of the elite children’s hospitals in the country, Children’s Memorial Hospital of Northwestern University in Chicago and has been a pediatric surgeon for more than three decades. Musemeche also has an MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico and a JD from the University of Texas School of Law. Musemeche’s first book, Small, was longlisted for the E.O. Wilson/Pen American Literary Science Award and was awarded the Texas Writer’s League Discovery Prize for Nonfiction in 2015. She has also contributed to the New York Times’ “Motherlode” blog, KevinMD.com and EMS World. She lives in Austin, Texas. 

Table of Contents

Map xi

Prologue 1

Part 1 A Nation at War in Two Oceans

Chapter 1 Chasing Plankton on the Eve of the War 5

Chapter 2 Choosing an Unlikely Path 20

Chapter 3 Finding a Mentor Fosters a Career 30

Chapter 4 Smoke Screens and Submarines 42

Chapter 5 Hydro Fights a War 57

Chapter 6 The War Beneath the Sea 77

Chapter 7 A Seat at the Table 85

Chapter 8 The Vast Pacific Ocean 96

Chapter 9 Oceanographers to the Rescue 110

Part 2 The Mission Begins

Chapter 10 Closing the Intelligence Gap 129

Chapter 11 Tarawa 147

Chapter 12 Reversing the Mandate 158

Chapter 13 The Oceanographic Unit Digs In 178

Chapter 14 Narrowing the Path to Victory 198

Chapter 15 Flying Blind in Iwo Jima 215

Chapter 16 Penetrating the Zone of Safety 225

Chapter 17 Closing in on Victory 239

Epilogue 249

Author's Note and Acknowledgments 259

Endnotes 263

Photo Insert Credits 293

Index 295

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