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Clear the Bridge!: The War Patrols of the U.S.S. Tang [Paperback]

Richard H. O'Kane
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Mar 1997
Tang carried the war to the enemy with unparalleled ferocity. This is her story as told by her skipper.

Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press (31 Mar 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891415734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891415732
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,520,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
To the casual eye, Tang had appeared ready for sea upon launching, but she was now securely moored abreast our shipbuilding office. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest Submarine Commander autobiography 1 May 2006
By Big Dud
Format:Mass Market Paperback
You must read this to understand the submarine war against the Japanese in World warII. It is the pace setter for all the subsequent books by American submarine commanders. It will challenge all your emotions and you will want to read Wahoo also by O'Kane. A great great read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear Winner 7 Mar 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Clear The Bridge is, certainly, the finest book of its type & believe me,I have read them all. Written by Richard O Kane, the top scoring American submarine skipper of World War Two, it tells of O Kane's life in both USS Wahoo, serving as executive officer to the legendary Mush Morton and on USS Tang as captain. Morton,s style of operating, where he did not make periscope observations but let O Kane do it, meant that O Kane got his shooting-eye in early, so that when he left the Wahoo to captain the Tang he was already a seasoned periscope operator. This immediately showed as Tang,s score started to rocket from day one. O Kane ,like most of the high scoring submarine skippers on both sides,tended to operate his boat as a submersible rather than a true submarine, carrying out the majority of his attacks on the surface,where his surface speed gave him far more flexibility than being submerged. It is ironic that this tactic eventually ended his sinkings tally when the 24th & final torpedo launched at a freighter tragically circled & struck Tang amidships,throwing O Kane & several bridge crew members into the sea where they were picked up & held in captivity until the end of the war.If you have the choice of only one book of this type then I recommend Clear the Bridge .......by a long way.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  92 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest submarine book ever written. 20 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I could not put this book down. O'Kanes writing puts the reader inside the sub taking part in every detail of the Tang's patrols during WWII. I found myself refering to the maps every time he gave a description of the Tang's approach to enemy shipping and being able to see his detailed discriptions of the area thru the periscope. O'Kane's memories of details of shooting setups and the details of men at their stations in time of war is uncanny. This is truly a book that takes the reader to the dark days of WWII and the frustration of fighting with defective torpedos and equipment and the "jury-rigging" the crews had to do to make things work and in most cases make equipment better than what was issued. O'Kane was not only a great leader of men he is one of the great heros of WWII. It would be an honor to shake his hand.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legend With Great Writing Skills 7 Stars 5 Mar 2007
By Steve Dietrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
O'Kane's the real deal, sailor, warrior, leader, survivor and writer.

This is his story and that of the USS Tang, one of the most successful submarines operating in the Pacific. O'Kane was one of a new breed of submarine skippers who traded caution for results with great success, but at huge risks. One of the most effective tactics was to take the surfaced submarine into the middle of Japanese convoys at night, attacking multiple ships and then escaping to the depths.

The action is heart stopping and explains why the Navy pulled some of the more conservative older skippers out of their boats and replaced them with men like this. But the story is much more than simply tactics and bravery above all expectations, it is a story about true leadership.

Young MBA's would do better asking themselves what characteristics of leadership did O'Kane and his officers utilize to achieve so much with so very little in tangible rewards to offer their crews? There were few rewards for the truly outstanding sub crews, congratulations, awards, a sense of team and the dubious honor of being sent back out on patrol as soon as possible.

One of the secrets was that O'Kane and other sub commanders under the leadership of senior officers at Pearl Harbor were given huge patrol areas and largely left to their own devices to take advantage of what they found. To prevent detection the subs seldom transmitted messages on the high power needed to reach thousands of miles across the ocean, the subs received intelligence information from headquarters, but no tactical instructions. On occasion they had schedules to keep, often lifeguard duty just offshore of enemy facilities which were being attacked from the air. Many young pilots, including George Bush Sr were plucked from waters off the Japanese held islands.

The book is also a reminder of a can-do nation at work. Battered and worn out subs returning from patrol were overhauled, updated and ready to depart on the next patrol in only a few weeks.

The description of various engagements may seem a little dry and technical to someone who has not been out on the sea on a dark night trying to make sense of faint shadows and movement. For fans of surface warfare who think subs are like hunting with poison gas, the descriptions of night surface attacks in the middle of escorted convoys will fully dispel that image.

The book is a great reminder of the incredible courage of those who have gone to sea to defend our country for more than 220 years and those who continue to do so today.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of submarine Tang by her only CO. 20 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
By the time of Tang's launch in 1944 most of the early war torpedo problems had been solved and better radar and tactics were in place. Submarine technology was state of the art. Bright, agressive officers like Dick O'Kane were the ramaining element to gain ultimate seccess.
"Clear The Bridge" privides a well written and consise chronology of the operations of Tang. O'Kane personalizes Tang's history by including some of the stories of the men who served on her.
We first met O'Kane in the pages of "Wahoo" commanded by "Mush Morton". O'Kane credits much of his success to the training he received serving under Morton as Executive Officer.
The book is a microcosm of the great conflict that was WW II. The Allies won the conflict through the courage and agressiveness of men like O'Kane and her crew.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benchmark book on submarine warfare 11 July 2005
By David N. Currey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've read "Clear the Bridge" an estimated seventeen times. I first began reading it soon after its initial paperback printing about 1980. This is the book by which I judge all other books on WWII American submarine warfare. It is difficult to put down. One thing it contains, which I find lacking in many other fine submarine books, is the detail. Each attack is described thoroughly, so the reader can understand the circumstances and tactics being used. There is no hyperbole, yet this is one of the most exciting accounts you will ever read on the topic. Tang experienced firsthand to the nth degree the torpedo failures that plagued the silent service during the entire war, and you will read about it here. I generally consider O'Kane to be the top submarine commander of the war, but there were many fine ones, and it's a little bit like comparing apples with rocks. He seemed to have a sixth sense in rooting out enemy shipping. He trained his crew well and respected them. Yet despite the Tang's success, O'Kane does not come across as being overly risky. Each attack was carried out with the overall safety of his "ship" in the back of his mind. (He never calls the Tang a "boat".) The dedication of O'Kane and his crew to their war effort is awe inspiring. One in six submariners died in the war, yet submariners like Tang's continued to put their lives on the line patrol after patrol. I highly recommend this book not only to readers of WWII submarine warfare, but to anybody who likes to read period.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read 26 Sep 2005
By WWII Buff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a great book. The fact that is was written by the Captain of the Submarine makes it that much more meaningful. I couldn't stop reading it, but my one complaint is that it is very technical and lacks some emotion. The author, being a "career navy man" uses abbreviations and phrases that don't mean much to the layperson (and the glossary doesn't help much in this regard) and there is an overall lack of "passion". There is very little discussion of his personal feelings or the mood on the ship. For example, he describes a depth charge attack (a crack and a boom and pressure through the hull) as something that made the men realize the training exercise did not approximate reality (or that the real thing was nothing like the Hollywood version). I thought a depth charge attack was one of the most terrifying ordeals in a submarine and as a result was very interested in reading what it was like by someone who was there first-hand, but it gets very little coverage.

However, knowing that the events were real and the people were real makes this book an excellent read. I recommend it.
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