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The War Below

The War Below

The Story of Three Submarines That Battled Japan

“Beautifully researched and masterfully told” (Alex Kershaw, New York Times bestselling author of Escape from the Deep), this is the riveting story of the heroic and tragic US submarine force that helped win World War II in the Pacific.

Focusing on the unique stories of three of the war’s top submarines—Silversides, Drum, and TangThe War Below vividly re-creates the camaraderie, exhilaration, and fear of the brave volunteers who took the fight to the enemy’s coastline in World War II. Award-winning journalist James Scott recounts incredible feats of courage—from an emergency appendectomy performed with kitchen utensils to sailors’ desperate struggle to escape from a flooded submarine—as well as moments of unimaginable tragedy, including an attack on an unmarked enemy freighter carrying 1,800 American prisoners of war.

The casualty rate among submariners topped that of all other military branches. The war claimed almost one out of every five submarines, and a submarine crewman was six times more likely to die than a sailor onboard a surface ship. But this valorous service accomplished its mission; Silversides, Drum, and Tang sank a combined sixty-two freighters, tankers, and transports. The Japanese were so ravaged from the loss of precious supplies that by the war’s end, pilots resorted to suicidal kamikaze missions and hungry civilians ate sawdust while warships had to drop anchor due to lack of fuel. In retaliation, the Japanese often beat, tortured, and starved captured submariners in the atrocious prisoner of war camps.

Based on more than 100 interviews with submarine veterans and thousands of pages of previously unpublished letters and diaries, The War Below lets readers experience the battle for the Pacific as never before.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439176849 | 
  • May 2014
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Read an Excerpt

The War Below 1 SILVERSIDES
“No one knows how long this will last, but long enough to make everyone very tired of it.”

—Slade Cutter, February 9, 1942, letter

Lieutenant Commander Creed Cardwell Burlingame paced the bridge of the USS Silversides as it departed the submarine base at Pearl Harbor at 9:51 a.m. on April 30, 1942. The thirty-seven-year-old skipper, nicknamed “Burly,” felt anxious this warm Thursday morning. The... see more

About the Author

James Scott
Photograph by Tim Kerr

James Scott

James Scott is a former investigative reporter with The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was named Journalist of the Year in 2003 by the South Carolina Press Association. A 2007 Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University, Scott is the author of TheAttack on the Liberty, which won the Samuel Eliot Morison Award. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

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