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

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  947 ratings  ·  83 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
Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by University of Illinois Press (first published 1992)
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4.41  · 
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 ·  947 ratings  ·  83 reviews

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Mr. Matt
Mar 20, 2015 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 o ...more
Jul 14, 2011 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 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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 s ...more
May 03, 2013 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 conductin ...more
Oct 19, 2013 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 07, 2008 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 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!!!
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Just finished this book. I do not write many reviews and since the ones written varied so much I thought I would give it a shot. Read it. It is not a bad book.

The book basically takes the "supposed" most successful American submarine in WWII and describes the history of five combat patrols that made the success. From the ship's log; after action reports (both Japanese and American); and a crew member's unauthorized diary the book is presented in a fairly dry format. But at least it doesn't read
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii, submarine
I just could not get too excited about this book. My biggest complaint is that it reads like a ship's log sprinkled with dialog. Secondly, there is do depth of character or reflection. Fluckey primarily talks about himself. The only other person in the book that me consistently mentions is Bob, his Exec. The rest just are names on the page. In the end, even with his great accomplishments, I was left feeling emotionless.

There are several FAR better submarine books than this: Battle Stations, O Go
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a worthy read for those interested in the WW II Pacific naval campaign. Much of what I have to say about "Thunder Below" by Eugene Fluckey would be a repeat of a Goodreads review dated March 20, 2015 by Mr. Matt. I point interested readers to his fine analysis.
The book is autobiographical, about the author's two years aboard the submarine USS Barb in the Pacific during WW II. During that time Fluckey and the crew were highly decorated and successful, including a Medal of Honor for F
Philip Prescott
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Better than fiction

This is one of the most heartfelt, real, and direct accounts of warfare in Wwii that I have ever read. The passion CMDR Fluckey felt for his ship and crew are easily sensed throughout the pages of his story.

This story depicts honor and bravery in a barbaric and unimaginable theater of war.

The Barb and her exploits are truly inspiring. I have been so moved as to visit the USS Drum in Mobile AL to further grasp the experience of these brave men. It is regrettable that the Barb
Gary Detrick
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read. Took me a little time to get use to and learn a bit of their "jargon". You feel as if you are actually aboard the Barb, working in the background, hearing the conversations and becoming part of the surroundings. Fluckey and his written timing of the events as they unfold and the quoted conversations place you right there in the middle of the action. When he calls his crew above to observe a particular amazing attack, you feel as if you are being called up with them to observe. Amazin ...more
Andrew Hunter
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pedestrian but fun. The kind of book that literally writes "BOOM! WHAM!" whenever the author hears a torpedo hit a ship. But damn if it isn't fun. It's a gripping (real) tale of badassery under pressure, with a lot of fun anecdotes.

An annoying thing is conversations that are clearly fictionalized in that they explain things both participants know (and wouldn't have mentioned to each other)--very As You Know, Bob--but helpful to me, and the rest of the narrative kept me glued to it.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Generally speaking, any book about first hand accounts of US submarine action in World War II is an easy five star rating for me. This book was by far the best submarine action book I have ever read. Admiral Fluckey and those that served with him on the Barb are truly the greatest generation.
Larry Weldon
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Start to finish action. Great account of submarine life and warfare. Interesting fact: opening every war they have had the Japanese destroyed the enemy fleet in a surprise attack. Missed on USA.
Mark Rose
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read ww2 sub story

Well written nailbiter. Cant be put down. Written in sequential ship log manner, this one takes you from battle to battle. Great classic, should be required reading for every HS history class.
Gary Misch
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The best non fiction submarine book ever written, by one of the best submarine skippers of World War II (two Medals of Honor). Eugene Fluckey revolutionized submarine warfare as much as anyone, and the reader reads about in this book. His only potential equal, Mush Morton, didn't survive the war.
James Pratt
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed reading. Really captured the stress and intense situations. Felt like I was there.
Terry Tooley
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very good history on the exploits of a submarine during WWII and how this lead to the capabilities they have today.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great story of improvisation and daring.
Bill Bowne
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting, very readable story!
Peggy Maniates
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book a thrilling look aboard a wwii submarine. the personal stories and innovation amazed me.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
If I could give Admiral Fluckey and the crew of the USS Barb a ten-star review, I would. Bravo to this indomitable submarine and her loyal crew.
Kit Redmond
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book. The author, Admiral Fluckey, tells a gripping story about one of the most effective submarine and crews of World War II.
Paul J. Petersen
Remarkable in detail and authenticity

What a remarkable story. This has to rank as one of the best WWII submarine books written. Gripping but also touching in respects.
Pete Zilla
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A gripping story about submarine warfare and leadership.
James Brewster
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating account of the WWII War Patrols of USS Barb, a submarine. Admiral Fluckey and his crew, during their patrols, endured and survived several depth bomb attacks which they likened to "Thunder" only underwater.
On his last patrol, Fluckey pioneered the use of a submarine to conduct guerilla attacks against shore installations, resulting in scaring the population to the point that the Japanese govt had to commit larger numbers of troops to homeland defense than they had planned.
I had the
Jeannie Walker
Apr 30, 2015 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
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
Apr 13, 2015 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
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Nonfiction: Rear Admiral Fluckey 1 11 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?” 0 likes
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