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Down to the Sea: An Epic Story of Naval Disaster and Heroism in World War II
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Down to the Sea: An Epic Story of Naval Disaster and Heroism in World War II

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  90 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
This epic story opens at the hour the Greatest Generation went to war on December 7, 1941, and follows four U.S. Navy ships and their crews in the Pacific until their day of reckoning three years later with a far different enemy: a deadly typhoon. In December 1944, while supporting General MacArthur's invasion of the Philippines, Admiral William "Bull" Halsey neglected the ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published 2007)
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Apr 05, 2015 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid and informative recounting of the active duty and unfortunate sinking of three U.S. destroyers, with huge loss of life, by a strong typhoon off of the Philippines near the end of WWII. Some very good anectdotes and personal interest material. Made me reassess my view of Halsey. My father and brother both served part of their naval service in destroyers and frigates. My old man said going through a cyclone is one of the scariest things aboard a small ship. Sadly, many more men could have ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Sandy rated it liked it
This book is almost good. What is amazing is some of the vignettes in this well researched books of extreme bravery, resilience and honor exhibited by most of the participants in this storm driven debacle.

I did not like the organization of first half of the book though. The author talks for a page or two about maybe a hundred different people and ships which all blend together. Unfortunately he also skips around chronologically so you don't get any feel for the actual historical flow of the War
Sep 15, 2010 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently not the first book about Halsey's fleet and the typhoons in 1944. Amazing combination of bad decisions and assumptions lead to man-vs-nature confrontation in the middle of a war. This book apparently uses survivor stories not available to earlier researchers or the investigation board. I found it too heavy on the individual life stories prior to the storm, but after that it was intense.
Jack London
Apr 13, 2016 Jack London rated it really liked it
On December 17, 1944, an army meteorologist warned the navy of a typhoon in the path of a one hundred ship task force that was at sea to refuel. “We don’t believe you,” was the reply the navy sent back. Then, a naval weatherman on the battleship New Jersey also refused to believe his own eyes as he watched the barometer drop and saw destroyers bounce off sixty-foot wave tops in whirling winds. Inevitably, the fleet bounced into the eye of Typhoon Cobra. Three of its destroyers sank, with 790 ...more
Betsy Gray
Feb 14, 2014 Betsy Gray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a Naval History buff then this is a must read. Everyone expects a ship to be destroyed in a battle during wartime but not to be destroyed by a weather event. This is the story of a Pacific typhoon and its effect on the US. Third Fleet under Admiral Halsey's command. How the men handle this disaster, from the captains to the seamen on board the three ships, USS Hull, USS Spence and USS Monaghan, is the center of this story. Also added to this story is that of the USS Tabberer whose ...more
Amanda Christian
This is a story of Naval disaster in the middle of WWII by one our greatest WWII Admirals, Admiral Willam "Bull" Halsey; who lead his Third Fleet, because of his bullheadedness straight into the center of a typhoon. It turned out to be one of the largest in history. He would not listen to anyone. He lost three destroyers, over a thousand men and many more damaged vessels. He was not court martialed nor was he repremanded. That was very much a shame because after the war in 1946 he did the same ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Henderson follows three destroyers and a destroyer escort along with their crews from the early days of World War II until the disaster of "Halsey's Typhoon." The destroyers were sunk in the typhoon and the destroyer escort was the primary ship involved in the rescue of the crews. The subtitle ("A Tale of Heroism and Disaster...") is completely apropos. This book portrays ordinary men doing great things to save their comrades. I strongly suggest that everyone read this book.
Jul 03, 2011 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is similar to "Halsey's Typhoon" with a more extensive background of the officers and men of the three destroyers sunk in the December 1944 Typhoon, USS Spence (DD-512), USS Monaghan (DD-354( and USS Hull (DD-350). It also goes into the Court of Inquiry in reference to the incident. The book offers insights of the tragi sinking of these three ships with the loss of over 700 lives. A must for any Naval History Buff.
Mar 05, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Politics and troop morale seem to be why Hasley wasn't busted after his gross incompetence led to the loss of 700+ sailors and three ships in the Dec 18th, 1944 typhoon(and this just months of his having the 3rd fleet chasing decoys 300 miles from where he was supposed to be guarding the San Bernadino straight in the battle of of Leyte Gulf.
Mar 30, 2015 Ruth rated it did not like it
You have to be a serious lover of all things nautical and warlike to get into this book. I didn't get very far. One battle after another, I saw as I skimmed. The first battle, with the names and backgrounds of the significant crew members was okay. But I can't endure this kind of thing over and over. It's probably very good if you have a very deep interest in these matters.
Charles Calvano
Interesting, but the author's choice of the way to tell the stories of 4 different ships and certain of their crewmembers made it very difficult to follow as he shifted back and forth among the four ships. He found himself forced to reintroduce characters to the reader over and over so that the reader could re-establish continuity. Made the reading choppy.
Robin Smith
Aug 06, 2015 Robin Smith rated it really liked it
Good recounting of the events leading up to the typhoon disaster as well as a fairly good war history of each ship and selected crewmembers. Admiral Halsey doesn't come out looking very good and this after he screwed up at Leyte Gulf.
Mar 20, 2015 Sterling rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed the book. Henderson aquatints you with thee characters of the book and the develops the story. It was a history lesson that I never learned until now Halsey should have been court marshaled along with Marks.
Apr 30, 2010 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like WW II history, you will enjoy this book. Well-researched, with interesting stories of the men who lived through naval battles and disasters. Includes a lot of information on the ships caught in the typhoon of 1944.
Michael Stanton
Jun 13, 2011 Michael Stanton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive treatment of ships downed and battles fought. Let's just say after this I have *no desire* to spend time in a boat! :)
Dec 28, 2010 WRH rated it really liked it
Well written book based primarily upon accounts and testimony from the survivors. This book documents some of the bad decisions bad in dealing with the typhoon.
Gary Grubb
Mar 12, 2011 Gary Grubb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous read. Of course, I was in the Navy. Truly interesting and captivating story. Highly recommend.
Nov 30, 2012 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This a good book about the Halsey Typhoon, but the author jumps back and forth from one ship to another, one year to another, one incident to another with poor connection between ships and events.
May 18, 2015 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I was memorized by the terror of the events. And inspired by the heroic acts of these young men.
Clinton rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2012
Ben Wilhite
Ben Wilhite rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2014
Lamonte Johnson
Lamonte Johnson rated it liked it
May 26, 2014
Terry Kandel
Terry Kandel rated it it was amazing
Jun 10, 2015
Ted rated it really liked it
Apr 22, 2014
Derek rated it it was amazing
Aug 18, 2012
Bob rated it really liked it
Jan 26, 2011
Joseph rated it liked it
Aug 05, 2013
Hans Gieskes
Hans Gieskes rated it it was amazing
Jul 27, 2016
Steve Bera
Steve Bera rated it really liked it
May 30, 2016
Walt rated it liked it
Jul 28, 2013
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Bruce Henderson is the author or coauthor of more than twenty nonfiction books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell. His latest book, Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II, will be published by William Morrow (a HarperCollins imprint) in April 2015. An award-winning journalist and author, he has published in Esquire, Playboy, ...more
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