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

Eugene B Fluckey
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 31.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Jun 1992
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 untilit 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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Product details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (30 Jun 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252019253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252019258
  • Product Dimensions: 26.5 x 18.2 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,984,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"A sprightly memoir by a young submarine captain in the Pacific war, written by an old man looking back as a retired admiral, perhaps a bit amazed at the feats of his reckless youth." -- Thomas E. Ricks, The Washington Post Book World

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"Barb Ho-o-o-o!" The call echoed from the bridge of the submarine and dissipated, smothered in the icy fog. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling tail of life on a submarine 28 Jan 1999
By A Customer
This is a great story is about the life of the crew on the USS Barb and what they went through on there 8th-12th missions. It is a book worth reading and keeping in your Library. It is thrilling and full of suspense.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Eugene B. Flucky has made a wonderful account of his own interesting career and that of the men with whome he served and the ships on which he served. The descriptions of attacks are in such great detail that you feel as though you are in the conning tower of the sub with the crew. Time and time again you are pulled into an event that occured over fifty years ago, but through the story telling abilities of the author you feel like you are experiencing it for yourself. A great buy and a book that I am reading for the second time in less than a year. The only point that I would raise is with regards to the lack of colloquialisms, wich makes reading the book a bit laborious at times. Don't let this frighten you away however because it's a great book!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 27 Jun 1998
By A Customer
My uncle John Lehman was on the Barb while Fluckey was on for his tours. For me the book hits home even more for that reason. To be able to know to some what my uncle went thru durring the war is very important to me. This book is great
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting true life adventure 26 July 1998
By A Customer
Eugene Fluckey successfully takes the reader on tour with the USS Barb. For the history buff, especially USN WWII pacific theatre, this is must reading. I can not praise this work highly enough. Admiral Fluckey has the rare ability to blend technical data with excitment and thrill to give the reader the true sense of being there. Bravo!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  165 reviews
66 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you read one WWII submarine memoir, be it this one 14 Sep 2000
By Bryan MacKinnon - Published on Amazon.com
If you read but one WWII submarine memoir, be it this one. Far from a dispassionate account of the exploits of a successful submarine skipper, with Thunder Below, you are there. I've read many a book about submarines; but Fluckey's lively and coherent style makes it much easier to understand life aboard a WWII sub. Most other books, O'Kane's for example, I'd recommend for students of history or submarine warfare. Not this one. Anyone who likes a good tale, be it fiction or non-fiction, could like this one. And it's not just his account he presents either; it's also richly filled with accounts from the Japanese, other American subs, and an illegal diary kept by one of his crewman. So a balanced, all around perspective is given that is lacking in other memoirs. Fluckey's presentation of an American wolf pack attack that decimated a Japanese convoy unknowingly filled with Allied POW's (and some of their subsequent rescue) is one of the most moving stories I've ever read.
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on submarine warfare. 31 Jan 1998
By C. Peter Jorgensen - Published on Amazon.com
Everybody rates this book EXCELLENT except for one reviewer on this web site who must be one of those sub skippers who kept his boat under at 60 ft day and night. I've read about 20 WWII submarine books and Gene Fluckey's book about the Barb is one of the best. It's the equal to Dick O'Kane's book on the U.S.S. Tang. Both were outstanding submariners and both later went on to become Admirals. BOTH skippers won the Congressional Medal of Honor, something awarded to only 7 WWII sub skippers out of more than 200, and 4 of the 7 were posthumous. Gene Fluckey was one of those who received the medal for daring and successful action, not for going down with his ship. They don't give the medal out lightly, especially in the United States Navy.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Historical Account 9 May 2006
By Robert M. Languedoc - Published on Amazon.com
This book is the firsthand account of the World War II submarine, USS Barb, written by the skipper recollecting his 15 months of command. It is a fascinating account detailing the audacious exploits of his ship and crew. You are not going to find any plot twists and intrigue popular among fictional seagoing stories, but the book is filled with the details of real life characters and their bold and exemplary accomplishments. As I read this book I had to remind myself that this was a true story and these people were real.

Fluckey's narrative is interlaced with other perspectives of the same incidents including the Japanese describing their reception of the business end of the USS Barb. The description of the crew members that paddled to shore to place a scuttling charge under the tracks to blow up a train was one of the most compelling sequences I have read. It was filled with light humor and suspense. This would have made extraordinary fiction if it had not actually occurred. The Japanese account of the incident included a report that some people thought they saw a man in a trench coat smoking a cigarette under a dock. When I read this I thought that they had been reading too many spy novels.

Eugene B. Fluckey writes for his readers, filling the pages with fine points from all angles making the sequence of events appear to unfold as I am sure they actually did. He includes his personal feelings towards the crew, his boat and how his experiences shaped his life. There are many firsthand accounts of historical events, but few are captured so eloquently and thoughtfully as they are in this book.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Advertised 20 Aug 2002
By Datsmeharse - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book from Amazon after reading the reviews here -- a big thank you to all you reviewers! Adm. Fluckey does a terrific job of recreating the tension and detailing the actions of his wonderful ship and crew; unlike more static narratives, this one comes alive with the voices of these heroes. Adm. Fluckey deserves special praise for the detailed research he did as well, tracking down even the Japanese radio messages to help illuminate his amazing story. A must-read!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book 10 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I have just completed reading "Thunder Below" and "Clear the Bridge" back to back and being an ex-submariner the contrasts between the two commanding officers is remarkable. I couldn't put Thunder Below down until it was finished. Adm. Fluckey was a commanding officer every sailor dreams of serving under. I just missed serving under him when he was COMSUBPAC in 1966. The combination of the patrol reports and the illegal diary along with remembered conversations puts the reader in the middle of the action. The exploits of the Barb and her crew contains the ingredients of a great movie, and I understand Steven Spielberg has purchased the rights. This review is more of a salute to the Barb and her crew than a book review, and Adm. Fluckeys writing style is to be creditied. Thanks Admiral for a great book.
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