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Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War…

Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (1975)

by Clay Blair

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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224380,163 (3.93)4
Here for the first time is the definitive history of the submarine war against Japan -- the ONLY full-scale submarine war the United States ever fought -- which has for the most part been shrouded in secrecy for three decades. Only recently have the codebreakers who played such a pivotal role in the submarine war been willing to talk about their work. And only recently have the private papers, diaries, and official reports of the submarine admirals and skippers been made available to historians.… (more)



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I'm sure that real navy and submarine buffs will have a ball reading it with all the details it presents to the reader. And as such I can only recommend it wholehearted.

But for me it is simply too much and too far from my 'home turf'; Army and combat aviation related stuff.
( )
  JesperCFS2 | Mar 13, 2017 |
Ever since touring U-505 at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry as a young boy, I've been fascinated by submarines. I've watched just about every movie about them and played just about every video game that features them and ridden the ride at Disneyland and still the attraction remains.

This book, although necessarily quite repetitive in it's reporting, is a dream come true for a submarine buff. I don't believe that the author missed a single submarine action in the Pacific Theater from the entire war. To me the most amazing aspect of the story is definitely the work of the code breakers. It seems that we knew what the Japanese Navy was up to before they did!

The maps are very clear (and useful) and the Appendices at the end are detailed and informative. All-in-all I don't see how a book of this type could be written any better.

The one area where I felt the book was lacking, there should be some sort of ship recognition guide along with performance characteristics for each class of ship, and a glossary of terms should be included as well. ( )
1 vote 5hrdrive | Aug 24, 2011 |
Silent Victory
Silent Victory provides us with numerous valuable insights about the lives of submariners who helped subdue a belligerent maritime power. Interspersed with technical data and submarine tactics within the book are the travails and triumphs of the officers and men who fought the undersea war in the Pacific theatre.

Three things struck me while reading this book:

(1) Submarines are of relatively little value if their primary weapon, the torpedo, is ineffectual. Torpedoes, being self-contained and self-propelled weapons systems, must operate reliably under all conditions. Although boats that were then in use had been armed with naval guns, using such rifled weapons required submarines to operate on the surface, thereby largely negating the boats' stealth capability.

Silent Victory describes in detail how the various torpedo problems encountered by the fleet were eventually addressed. The book also paints a poignant portrait of the quandaries submariners faced due to the initial lack of torpedoes in the theatre, the highly disappointing performance of the torpedoes due to design defects, and the resulting negative impact on morale whenever a textbook approach on unsuspecting targets resulted in no sinkings.

(2) With the benefit of hindsight, Mr. Blair points out that the strategic interdiction of Japanese commerce could have dramatically abbreviated the war had the military brass thought of positioning submarines in the Luzon Strait, where numerous convoys and men-of-war transited. Copious accounts of submarines being sent to areas where warships were detected (usually through code-breaking) and then returning home empty-handed are found throughout the book; it is impossible to wade through these accounts without experiencing a sense of frustration.

(3) Clearly, the Imperial Japanese Navy was largely unprepared for the unrestricted submarine warfare imposed by the US on Japanese shipping during the war. Japanese convoys and merchant ships frequently sailed unescorted. Japanese destroyers, in their efforts to destroy US boats, were by and large hampered by ineffectual depth charges. Furthermore, Japanese submarines, which could have served as escorts to these hapless convoys, inflicted little damage on US ships.

From a strategic standpoint, submarines are 'cheap' - unlike a surface ship such as a cruiser, a submarine requires a much smaller crew to keep her in operation (even with a skeleton crew, her ability to inflict damage is relatively unimpaired); the intrinsic minimalism of submarine design meant that repairs can be promptly made while in port; and the asymmetry inherent in submarine warfare made submarines truly effective as offensive weapons during WWII.

As mentioned in other reviews, this is the most comprehensive book about submarine warfare during the Pacific War. I might add that Silent Victory is a good jump-off point for further reading about the subject. One should note, however, that Mr. Blair depended heavily on US sources for his material, although this does not diminish his efforts in any way.

(Posted in Amazon.com, October 20, 2003) ( )
1 vote melvinsico | Oct 29, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clay Blairprimary authorall editionscalculated
Barth, BrianCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Benton, Thomas HartCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For centuries militarists recognized that a submarine's invisibility provided it with two distinct military advantages:....
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