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Thunder Below!: The USS *Barb* Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II

4.4  ·  Rating Details ·  606 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
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 d
Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1992)
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Mr. Matt
Mar 27, 2015 Mr. Matt rated it liked it
Thunder Below is the story of the USS Barb. The Barb roamed the Eastern Pacific between 1943 and the end of the Second World War. In her wake, she left a slew of sunken, broken Japanese ships - including a carrier. The Barb and her crew truly revolutionized submarine warfare. Under the direction of her captain, Gene Fluckey, the Barb didn't merely lurk under the waves waiting for a hapless ship to pass slowly in front of her torpedo tubes. Fluckey kept the Barb on the surface, actively seeking ...more
Jul 21, 2011 Sandy rated it it was amazing
I would not have thought a naval history book could make me cry any more than I would have expected it to inspire me as a reading teacher--but cry and learn I did as I turned the pages of Thunder Below! Admiral Eugene B. Fluckey's history of the USS Barb's patrols in the Pacific under his command during World War II.

It is a book my mother's uncle--our Uncle Bud--drove to Alabama to buy copies of for himself and for his siblings in 1994. Admiral Fluckey's submarine had been part of a wolfpack tha
Mar 11, 2016 Nathaniel rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This year I've started working on near-future science fiction, and I decided to read about submarines as part of my research. In some ways nuclear submarines are a better match (because they can stay submerged basically indefinitely), but I also wanted to get a feel for submarines when the technology was a little more raw and untested, so I'm interested in World War II (that would be this book) and World War I as well. I tell you that, just because perhaps "spaceship research" is not a typical ...more
Apr 17, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
What a boat, what a crew, what a captain! Was an outstanding read, written as if the reader was there. I remember seeing the original battle flag for the Barb while I attended Sub School, but never delved into the history of the boat, crew, and captain, rather the boats that are on "Eternal Patrol" (Thresher, Scorpion, Harder, Darter, Growler, Wahoo, etc.) Fluckey and the crew of the USS BARB SS220 certainly revolutionized submarine warfare as the title states, first to use rockets and ...more
Oct 30, 2008 Anthony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: naval historians, submariners
This memoir by Admiral Fluckey, the most decorated naval officer of WWII, gives a firsthand account of his three war patrols of the USS Barb. Not content to rely upon his own memory and notes, Fluckey contacted former shipmates and pored through their letters and diaries so the result isn't just a one-sided recollection by the Skipper, but insight into everyone's experiences, from the CO to the mess cranks. You really get a sense of what it was like on one of the old diesel boats, so if you are ...more
Aaron Meyer
Nov 20, 2010 Aaron Meyer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, ww-2
No doubt about it, this is the absolute BEST American submarine account out there that I have read. Usually I tell folks if you want an exciting submarine warfare book you need to read the German stuff, but now I finally have an American account to recommend. This guy had b$^ls that clanked and knew when and how to push things to the brink. Get it, read it, you will LOVE it!!!
Derrick Connell
Dec 08, 2016 Derrick Connell rated it it was amazing
HIGHLY RECOMMEND: I LOVED THIS BOOK. The story revolves around the USS Barb (sub) in the latter part of WWII. I wasn't quite sure why this was a book on the reading list for innovators or leaders but it truly is. Gene Fluckley is the commander of the Barb for five tours, and he innovates inside a large org (US Navy), leads a team through war (leadership), and invents a bunch of interesting new approaches to his command. Very quick and enjoyable read.
Gabor Mikes
Oct 13, 2016 Gabor Mikes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to me as mandatory reading for product managers, Thunder Below recounts the story of the USS Barb, a submarine operating in the Pacific theatre of the Second World War. Mobilising a team around a common goal? Check. Working with resource constraints and making tough prioritisation decisions? Methodically celebrating success as a way of motivation? Regularly discussing what went wrong and what went well? Check. Check. Check. Oh, and it also manages to be an exciting story. Battle ...more
Daniel Demarle
Sep 28, 2016 Daniel Demarle rated it it was amazing
Jeannie Walker
Apr 30, 2015 Jeannie Walker rated it it was amazing
Readers, we owe our freedom to men like “Luckey Fluckey”, who commanded USS Bard, a WWII submarine.
Commander Fluckey had the confidence to become unbeatable.
Commanders were only allowed four patrols, but Fluckey persuaded his superiors to let him have 5 patrols and promised to sink 15 ships. His kept his promise, and relentlessly patrolled the Pacific as he kept his ship cruising the surface, diving only to escape the enemy.
This is what real heroes are made of, and Fluckey was a real hero, as
Jean Poulos
This is a great story; it is one of those books that grab your attention immediately. Eugene B. Fluckey and the USS Bark sank 140,000 tons of Japanese shipping from April 1944 to the end of the War.

Admiral Fluckey takes his own memories and weaves it together with a crewman’s illegal diary, reports, letters, ship logs, and interviews as well as archival documents from the Japanese Navy to provide a detailed account of the U.S.S. Barb’s eight through twelfth War patrols. Apparently Fluckey was a
May 04, 2015 Don rated it really liked it
Written by Medal of Honor winner Eugene Fluckey, this book describes the activities of the USS Barb (SS-220) during her eighth through twelfth war patrols during World War 2. Commander Fluckey has used his recollections as the Barb’s commander during this period as well as official US Navy reports, recollections of the Barb crew, and even Japanese naval and government records to document the activities of the Barb. This is no dry documentary or history book but reads at times like a novel due to ...more
John Nevola
Sep 10, 2012 John Nevola rated it it was amazing
This is the story about the last 5 patrols of the U.S.S. Barb under the command of Eugene B. Fluckey, the author of this fantastic book.

"Lucky" Fluckey, as he was known, rewrote the rules on submarine warfare in the last year of the Pacific War. He changed the way American submarines stalked and killed their prey. The fact that the Barb sank the highest tonnage of any American sub in the War justified his methods.

Racing along the surface in the dark, Fluckey used the superior surface speed and m
Aug 01, 2011 Jim added it
A fast & enjoyable read. Eugene Fluckey took over command of the USS Barb, a submarine that had only sunk 1 Japanese ship in its previous patrols. Commander (later Admiral) Fluckey led the Barb on its next 5 patrols, 1 more than he was supposed to have been in command. He won the Congressional Medal of Honor for a daring attack against 2 anchored convoys in a shallow Chinese harbor and had to escape pursuit by the Japanese by dodging rocks and getting behind a group of Chinese junks.

He revol
John Gordon
Apr 02, 2015 John Gordon rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The USS Barb under the command of Eugene Flukey was the most successful American submarine in World War 2. I have been curious about the Pacific submarine campaigns and found this book to be quite an eye opener. Written by Eugene Flukey himself with additional material from a crewman diary and other American and Japanese sources, the voyages of this submarine are narrated.
I found the style a little annoying at first, the author does not hesitate to "blow his own horn" and relates reconstructed c
Charles T Elston
Captivated to the end

So authoritatively and authentically written, I was spellbound from the beginning til Fluckey transferred ashore. I've been on a couple of the "guppy" boats in New London and Norfolk but my patrols were in "fast attack" nuts. Quite a contrast to the diesel boats of W W II. Adm Fluckey's narrative defines what it means to be, not just a sailor, a submarine. They dealt with manufacturing defects in the torpedos and shrugged off the misses. Adm Fluckey was an inspiring and inno
Nov 27, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine lent me a copy of this book, personally dedicated to my friend's father, whose brother perished in USS Herring. Written by the skipper of the submarine himself, this book gives you an feel for what it was like to accompany the brave submariners into Japanese waters in World War II. It was hard to put this book down as I followed the incredible engagements of the USS Barb. Eugene Fluckey's tenacity in searching out and sinking enemy ships is something to behold, and the bravery ...more
Sep 07, 2016 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: history-read
Difficult to review this book. It is written by the CO of the USS Barb who won the Congressional Medal of Honor and later made admiral. In reading it 2 thoughts standout 1). One cannot help but feel it is a "Pat On the Back" for himself and crew. 2.) Early chapters of the patrols seem redundant in "Fire One, Fire Two"and so on. It gets a bit old.
With that said the book gets into much detail on the raids/targeting, both sea and land, that the the USS Barb conducted. The use of rockets being fir
Oct 22, 2013 David rated it it was ok
Though the admiral has an interesting story to tell, the writing is contrived and corny, very stilted. He should have considered a ghost writer. He often resorts to conversation reconstructions that are painful to listen to (I consumed this book via Audible).

Two books that describe the life of a sub captain during WWII that are way more engrossing and much better written:
1. The Bravest Man: The Story of Richard O'Kane & U.S. Submariners in the Pacific War by William Tuohy
2. Silent Running: M
Sep 03, 2014 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very readable account of extremely bold submarine missions in the final two years of World War II conducted by the Barb. I highly recommend it. I'd give it a 4.5 if I could, but will leave it with a four because I'd have wanted another map or two, and perhaps a wee bit more context. And some of the reconstructed conversations do not sound as natural as others. But those are very minor quibbles; this is really a great book. It paints a great, vivid and detailed picture of life in the si ...more
Matt Sparling
Apr 14, 2016 Matt Sparling rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Burke
Feb 27, 2012 David Burke rated it it was amazing
The writing sometimes left a little bit to be desired (some slow parts), but really that's not why you're reading this. Learning about life on a WWII sub was interesting enough, but the real amazing part is what these people went through and how they used their submarine in new and innovative ways. Definitely worth reading, even if you don't think you're interested in learning about submarine warfare.
Andy Dale
May 13, 2015 Andy Dale rated it really liked it
This book is about the commander of the U.S.S. Barb a submarine during WWII. This commander led his submarine on five successful tours sinking many ships , and doing innovative techniques and inventing new submarine procedures. This book was somewhat dry and technical in describing maneuvers of the submarine. I was impressed by the bravery of the crew of the submarine and the commander fluckey.
Ron Denton
Sep 19, 2014 Ron Denton rated it really liked it
Really good story of the last several patrols of the USS Barb and their incredible record under "Lucky" Fluckey. Written by the sub commander, who retired as a Vice Admiral. Brave, bold, but always concerned with his crew and whatever it took to help win the war. The action is good, though it could have had better editing. Gets a bit repetitive and the phrasing is a bit more like a screenplay than a book at times. Still, it's a good read not only for WWII naval history fans, but for anyone.
Apr 16, 2015 Ian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
More action packed than a 3 part fiction novel. It's interesting to put yourself into the shoes of on-patrol WWII submariners and learn the actual capabilities of the boats, sonar, torpedoes, etc. The rush to get new weapons to the theater and the good and bad that comes with using a new technology or method.
May 23, 2016 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was amazing! I loved the courage that led to the famous exploits of the Barb. The actions of this ship forever changed the way submarines are used and strengthened the modern importance of the silent service. The book is a must for anyone who wants to get into the mindset of one of the most capable and dangerous sea borne weapons platforms, the submarine.
Jun 15, 2015 Bill rated it it was amazing
This is a much overdue review... I have had this on my reading list for some time. I wish I had read it sooner. The exploits of the USS Barb and her crew the "Barbarians" is as exciting as any fantasy novel... Except it was all real. I would recommend this work to any one interested in the history of submarine warfare in WWII.
Aug 22, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it
Pretty amazing story, and all true. It gives marvelous insight into the generation that won WWII and how their attitudes were so much stronger than today. Gene Fluckey was an amazing man and leader, and is all comes across in his story as written nearly 50 years later. A Congressional Medal of Honor and three Navy Crosses, more than any other living person. Inspiring.
Oct 12, 2015 ADD rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a thrill to read, er, I mean, listen! At times, I felt like cheering "Come on, Gene! You'll get 'em". I had the pleasure of meeting Admiral Fluckey in the mid-90s. Should have read the book back then to give more inspiration to me and others. If you like war biopics, this is for you!
Al Sumrall
Jul 15, 2012 Al Sumrall rated it it was ok
Frankly, could have been a great story but got caught up in creative non-fiction....the writing style is very distracting. Had it been assisted by a ghost writer/professionally it would have done this story justice. You cannot substitute enthusiasm and knowledge for talent. It was OK to me only. For the record, I am not a professional or talented writer.
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Nonfiction: Rear Admiral Fluckey 1 9 Dec 20, 2009 01:37PM  
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“Swish, I don't want a bastard, I want a leader. We don't drive men on board the Barb. We lead them. From my experience with bastards, they achieve about equal results. But there's one big difference. When you lead men, they ship over and want to stay with you. Anything else?” 1 likes
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