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Escape from the Deep
By Alex Kershaw

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Escape from the Deep

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Escape from the Deep
The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew
By Alex Kershaw
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition (2008)
ISBN 10: 1-4104-1062-5
ISBN 13: 978-1-4104-1062-7
Genre: History - World War II

Reviewed by Herbert White - December 1, 2008

On October 25, 1944, the U.S. Navy submarine Tang, sank after it was hit by a torpedo that immediately killed half the subs crew. This was the fifth patrol of the Tang. By now the crew were old hands at hunting Japanese targets in the Pacific, and they were well versed at their respective jobs. Firing their last torpedo at the Ebaru Maru the men of the Tang thought their mission was done and they could now return to the safety of their base. They were wrong.

Within seconds, it was apparent that the Mark 18 electric torpedo, known as torpedo Number 24, was malfunctioning. Without warning it turned and headed directly toward the ship that had fired it. The men on the bridge did everything they could to try to save the ship, but it was all in vain, and the Tang was killed by its own weapon after living through five deadly patrols.

The destruction of the Tang and the heroic efforts of the survivors to escape from their watery coffin is chronicled, in gripping detail, in Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew. Written by Alex Kershaw, a historian noted for his best-selling popular histories such as The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, and The Few, this book is emotionally charged and will make you feel as if you are there, witnessing and enduring the same events as the sailors.

Within the pages of this book, Kershaw details the events leading up to the sinking of the Tang and the efforts of the survivors to escape from the submarine after it came to rest at the bottom of the ocean. Thankfully, for the survivors, it came to rest in shallows waters, coming to rest about 180 feet down. However, for the men of the Tang, escaping from the submarine was but the beginning of their journey. The handful of survivors that made it to the surface were fortunate, or unfortunate, enough to be picked up by a P-34 Japanese patrol boat. How you view their rescue will depend upon whether you are a glass half full, or half empty type of person, for after their rescue they were roughly interrogated (i.e., tortured). Things did not get any better after they were interned at Omori, a Japanese POW camp in mainland Japan that was euphemistically referred to as the "Torture Farm."

Kershaw follows the fate of the Tang survivors through until the end of the war, and provides a closure by giving us insights into what their lives have been since they regained their freedom. From beginning to end, Escape from the Deep is a mesmerizing tale of danger, heroism, and the fortunes of war. This is not a story that you are likely to forget, and it is a memorable addition to the body of works on the experiences of the men and women of the U.S. military who risked their lives - and their liberty - during the dark days of World War II.

I highly recommend this book to both general reader and students of history. The book includes numerous black and white illustrations that provide a face to the men who served aboard the Tang. For those with an academic bent, or whose interest is tweaked by this story, you'll find Kershaw's detailed endnotes and bibliography a solid foundation from which to pursue further study into the fate of the Tang, submarine warfare during World War II, and the lives of the valiant men who sailed within the Tang on her final patrol.


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