on 23 June 2013
Like his previous book, "Attack on the Liberty", Scott's prose is sharp and pulls the reader headlong through the horrors and triumphs of war. The slick writing belies the depth of research that has been done: this is not re-hashing of material from wikipedia, this is based on talking to the last of the WWII submariners and poring over endless naval records. The narrative skips between three of the most tenacious US hunters whose mission is to sink not just ships, but the while military economy of the Japanese Empire. Events don't always go the way lf the Americans, and the brave men in these tin cans were hampered by being given poor torpedos to work with and for the Tang, the consequences were tragic.
Clearly this account is from the American perspective and there is a tension between the point scoring and the human tragedy. At one pont one of the submariners is shocked when confronted by the carnage they have wreaked, when in normal conditions they kill from afar - a dehumanising process that has only got more extreme in recent conflicts. The flip side is the account given of the conditions mêted out to Japanese PoWs by vindictive petty officials who lacked the competetance to undertake military duties and take out their insecurities and dishonour on their prisoners. The Pacific War in WWII is less known in the UK, but this book is a fascinating and gripping account that brings together global and personal histories. There are many flashes of humour and thrill of the chase that just highlight the many contradictions of war. Thoroughly recommended.