Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: Escape from the Deep

Escape from the Deep by Alex Kershaw. This is a WWII non-ficiton. Kershaw relates the extraordinary WWII heroism of the crew of the USS Tang. This was the deadliest submarine operating in the Pacific theater. The Tang's captain, Cmdr. Richard O'Kane, was offered the opportunity to operate alone in the dangerous Formosa Strait. On his final tour, the boat's crew sank 13 ships on one of the most destructive patrols of the war. But the last torpedo malfunctioned and circled back and slammed into the Tang. The rogue torpedo killed half the crew instantly and sunk the sub in approximately 180 feet of water. The explosion threw O'Kane and several others into the ocean, but most of the rest were trapped below; only nine of 87 survived. The first challenge surviving a rogue torpedo. The second, how to escape from the sub in 180 feet of water. Several managed to escape the sub. The third major challenge, surviving the dangerous water. The final bit of bad luck- when they were picked up, it was by a Japanese patrol boat and taken to a POW camp, tortured and starved. O'Kane, who earned the Medal of Honor, weighed only 88 pounds when liberated. The author relys on interviews with survivors and oral histories. While the book is a compelling story, it is not an academic or historical record of the times and events. It is a story worth reading.

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