James M. Scott

“Scott has a gift for dramatic narrative.” —The Washington Post

Explosive new book


The War Below is the riveting story of the submarine force that helped win World War II in the Pacific by ravaging Japan’s merchant fleet and destroying the nation’s economy.

Focusing on the unique stories of three of the war’s top submarines—Silversides, Drum, and Tang—James Scott takes readers beneath the waves to experience the determination, heroism, and tragedy that defined the submarine service. From the thrill of a torpedo hit on a loaded freighter to the terror of depth charge attacks that shattered gauges and sprang leaks, The War Below vividly recreates the camaraderie, exhilaration, and fear of the brave volunteers who took the fight to the enemy’s coastline. Scott recounts incredible feats of courage—from an emergency appendectomy performed with kitchen utensils to the desperate struggle of sailors to escape from a flooded submarine trapped on the bottom—as well as moments of unimaginable tragedy, including an attack on an unmarked enemy freighter carrying 1,800 American prisoners of war.

The casualty rate among submariners topped that of all other military branches. The war claimed almost one out of every five subs—and a submarine crewman was six times more likely to die than a sailor onboard a surface ship. But the submarine service accomplished its mission; Silversides, Drum, and Tang sank a combined sixty-two freighters, tankers, and transports. So ravaged from the loss of precious supplies due to the destruction of the nation’s merchant fleet were the Japanese that by the war’s end hungry civilians ate sawdust while warships lay at anchor due to lack of fuel and pilots resorted to suicidal kamikaze missions. In retaliation, the Japanese often beat, tortured, and starved captured submariners in the atrocious prisoner of war camps.

Based on more than 100 interviews with submarine veterans and thousands of pages of previously unpublished letters and diaries, The War Below will let readers experience the battle for the Pacific as never before.


“This is the most absorbing narrative of submarine warfare that I’ve read in years. The research is so deep, and the writing so vivid, I could practically feel the vast ocean closing over me as these three boats ranged the Pacific looking for the kill.”

                                —James D. Hornfischer, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors and Neptune’s Inferno


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