• Thunder Below!

  • The USS Barb Revolutionizes Submarine Warfare in World War II
  • By: Eugene B. Fluckey
  • Narrated by: Corey Snow
  • Length: 15 hrs and 27 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (3,484 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 did far more than merely sink ships-she changed forever the way submarines stalk and kill their prey.

This is a gripping adventure chock-full of "you-are-there" moments. Fluckey has drawn on logs, reports, letters, interviews, and a recently discovered illegal diary kept by one of his torpedomen. And in a fascinating twist, he uses archival documents from the Japanese Navy to give its version of events. The unique story of the Barb begins with its men, who had the confidence to become unbeatable. Each team helped develop innovative ideas, new tactics, and new strategies. All strove for personal excellence, and success became contagious. Instead of lying in wait under the waves, the USS Barb pursued enemy ships on the surface, attacking in the swift and precise style of torpedo boats. She was the first sub to use rocket missiles and to creep up on enemy convoys at night, joining the flank escort line from astern, darting in and out as she sank ships up the column. Surface-cruising, diving only to escape, "Luckey Fluckey" relentlessly patrolled the Pacific, driving his boat and crew to their limits. There can be no greater contrast to modern warfare's long-distance, video game style of battle than the exploits of the captain and crew of the USS Barb, where the sub, out of ammunition, actually rammed an enemy ship until it sank. Thunder Below! is a first-rate, true-life, inspirational story of the courage and heroism of ordinary men under fire.

©1992 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (P)2013 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Fluckey is a fine writer with a lively, colorful style. His book is packed with action and suspense and is rich in details about the day-today operation of a submarine in combat." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about Thunder Below!

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Action, Excitement, & History. A great read!

Great read!! Fluckey did a great job putting you right in the action. Those who were there are the best at this. The book doesn't just tell you what happened, it lets you experince it first hand. You also get to know the men on the boat. I feel like I have a bunch of new friends. This book would be great for anyone interest in action, excitement, and history.

The production of the Audible portion was one of the best I have ever heard. The reader even pronounces the word " submariner" correctly. If you have ever spoken to an old submarine man he will be quick to tell you it's "submarine-er" not "sub-mariner."

This one of several titles that have needed to be on Audible for a long time. If everybody buys this title then maybe Audible will add other tiltes like: Richard Kane's "Wahoo" and "Clear the Bridge," and Edward L. Beech's, "Run Silent Run Deep," "Dust on the Sea," "Cold as the Sea," and "Submarine."

I want more!

38 people found this helpful

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Riveting

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 brilliant, courageous, fair Captain most concerned about bringing his men home safe. Not a man was wounded onboard Barb while he was the Captain.

“Lucky Fluckey” pioneered new submarine tactics that are still used today. The high point in the book is a night surface attack through miles of shoal water to attack two Japanese convoys in a harbor in China. Fluckey won the Medal of Honor and the Barb was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Fluckey won the Navy Cross four times, the Navy Distinguish Service medal with one gold star and many more medals. Eugene B Fluckey was a 1935 graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. In 1989 the Navy honored him by naming the Nuclear Submarine Combat System Training Center after him. The only building named for a living person.

The narration is clear, concise and vivid. Admiral Fluckey is a good writer and the story is not just about him but all the crew of the Barb. The book is well researched. The hardcover book also has lots of photographs. The book is an excellent study of sub warfare tactics and naval leadership. If you are looking for an excellent book about submarines in World War II this is a book for you. I read somewhere that Steven Spielberg has purchased the movie rights to the story. Corey Snow narrated the book. Corey Snow does an excellent job narrating the book.

17 people found this helpful

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Not for Tom Clancy Tech heads

Admiral Fluckey was clearly a great submarine commander and what he and his crew accomplished in the later part of the Pacific war is extremely impressive. The story makes a for an interesting listen if not a particularly informative one. My disappointment stems from the fact that there is so much interesting tech in a submarine but we hear very little about it. The book needs a few paragraphs devoted to the tactics, technical equipment and people used to solve the geometry problem of hitting a distant moving object with an unguided torpedo. He actually spends more time discussing the decoration on their celebratory cakes than he does talking about how they evaded depth charges or use sonar. Overall, a disappointment. I’m looking for a WW2 submarine memoir written to help me understand a bit of what the crew and their gear actually did to accomplish a highly complex mission using nearly steampunk tech.

13 people found this helpful

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What a great story!

One of the best accounts of World War II submarine action by one of the all-time great sub Commanders in US history. I highly recommend this audiobook for anybody who finds Naval History interesting.

8 people found this helpful

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Wow! There were brave men in WWII

Would you listen to Thunder Below! again? Why?

Yes. I enjoy military history. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was stunned at the bravery of the men that went out in submarines

What other book might you compare Thunder Below! to and why?

The Bravest Man - another submariner's tale, Neptune's Inferno on the naval battles around Guadalcanal and The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors of the heroic stand by destroyers against battleships in Leyte Gulf

Have you listened to any of Corey Snow’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I think the title sums it up: Thunder Below!

Any additional comments?

An above average tale well told

8 people found this helpful

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An interesting story, but very stilted writing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Though the admiral has an interesting story to tell, the writing is contrived and corny, stiff. He should have considered a ghost writer.

Two books that describe the life of a sub captain during WWII that are way more engrossing:
1. The Bravest Man: The Story of Richard O'Kane & U.S. Submariners in the Pacific War by William Tuohy
2. Silent Running: My Years on a World War II Attack Submarine by James F. Calvert

Either of those books are worth multiple listenings, I could barely make it through 'Thunder Below!'.

Was Thunder Below! worth the listening time?

The stilted writing made it very hard to get through.

7 people found this helpful

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fantastic

I listened to this book twice. As soon as I finished it I listened to it a second time. Great job. I didn't know anything about the Barb until I listened to this book. Fantastic!!!! I felt like I was in the south pacific during WWII. So many leaders get to be leaders by not rocking the boat. Sounds like we owe Admiral Fluckey a tip of the hat for being one of those unusual leaders willing to take the step out of the box, By doing so he did a lot to save many of our brave young men during WWII. Thank you Admiral. I like to think of myself as a student of the war in the pacific. The more I read the more I admire the front line marines, the prisoners of Bataan, all of our young men who suffered at the hands of the Japanese during that conflict. The pain and suffering those men went through unimaginable to today's generations. Then to see McArthur pardon most of the Japanese for their war crimes. What our men must of thought about that. Almost 70 years later we are still looking for German war criminals. But not the Japanese. I knew many WWII veteran's and even some WWI vets. They just didn't talk about their war. They just didn't. What a shame, My father-in-law won 7 bronze stars. His family didn't have a clue until his passing. Even his brother didn't know. How or why these men took their deeds to the grave with them speaks volumes to me. They just did what they had to do and came home and lived a productive life. What a generation. Tom Brokaw labeled them the Greatest Generation. He was right on the money. Listen to this book it is excellent.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Great book - unbearable narration.

I am a retired Army colonel and lifetime submarine fanatic. I added RADM Fluckey's hardbound book to my library years ago. I loved it and thought I would love the Audible version too. I might not have thought it possible to so completely ruin a fine book with cringingly bad narration. Mr. Snow accomplished the impossible. I am relieved that RADM Fluckey did survive to hear this mess. The bizarre intonations used by Snow for the different speakers in the book could not be more irritating. Imagine a frenetic Martin Short reading bedtime stories to children and you'll be close.

4 people found this helpful

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Packed with detailed submarine drama

I enjoyed this slice of WWII action. I don't know anything about submarine strategy and lore, but this book drew me in big time. You can tell that Gene Fluckey is not a professional writer. given his love of Micky Spillane-like adjectives, but a good read regardless.

4 people found this helpful

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Not the real book

I have read the book Thunder Below. The only thing the real book and this audio have in common are the name of the sub Barb, and Commander Fluckey. The story line does not resemble the real book in the slightest. This rip off of the real story is terrible.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Craig
  • 12-10-13

Brilliant.

What did you like most about Thunder Below!?

Right from the first chapter you are kept riveted by this incredible journey into the life of a WW2 Submarine Commander.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Thunder Below!?

When Eugene Fluckey takes you to the point where they have to rescue the Australian and British troops on board Japanese ships that had just been torpedoed. Its a dramatic and incredible rescue, testament to the determination of the troops to help each other stay alive for as long as possible in order to be saved. Its also incredible just how far Eugene and his men strived to rescue them. A wonderful moment that lives in Fluckey's memory.

Have you listened to any of Corey Snow’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Corey Snow gets right into the naritive. At some points you can believe that this is the voice of Eugene Fluckey, he brings the Commander and his Submarine alive.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When the submariners start to pull the survivors aboard their Sub and Eugene says he shed tears as they thanked him. The description of the survivor's alone moves the listener.

Any additional comments?

A first class listen. Every chapter a story in its own right.

5 people found this helpful

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  • S. Morris
  • 02-21-17

Run Silent, Run Deep But Also Give 'Em Hell!

This is a fascinating account of the various war patrols of the USS Barb under the command of Eugene Flucky. As someone with a keen interest in submarines, this was a book that gripped me from start to finish. However, I would hasten to add that you do not have to be a person with any particular interest in naval warfare to appreciate the amazing stories of daring deeds and near escapes at the hands of the Japanese during the second world war as skilfully detailed in this book. "Thunder Below" is a non stop series of incredible and sometimes funny stories under the most difficult of circumstances. What I found almost glib though, was how the author seemed to relish the dangerous missions and taking the fight right to the enemy. At times the flavour of the writing did appear to be lifted direct from a classic 50's Hollywood war time movie script that did make it seem that the enemy were pretty inept and left openings to those like Eugene Flucky to take full advantage of.

Although "Thunder Below" is a truly riveting read and shows the almost casual courage exhibited during combat, I did feel that the telling of this story lacked a certain visceral grit regarding the fear that any human must experience when being depth charged by a determined enemy. This is the only aspect of this otherwise superb book where I felt that something was lacking. In order to fully appreciate the bravery of the men living in this tin can for weeks on end, it would also have been interesting to have the author describe the terror experienced too. Only one minor incident with a junior crew member feeling the effects of being depth charged was alluded to. Other than this, it was almost as if undergoing such assaults by the enemy was more of a bother than a nightmare. Perhaps this mindset is partially driven by the fact that the U.S submariner generally had far better conditions and facilities onboard his boat than his German counterparts. In addition, the target rich environment of the Pacific prior to 1945 made for easier hunting I suspect. Given that the crew had cakes baked, ice cream on tap and cases of beer available in an air conditioned submarine is at odds with the much harsher environment of the U-Boats prowling the Atlantic in their much smaller and far less comfortable vessels. having toured the USS Pampanito myself, I can attest to the notion that if I were going to serve aboard a world war 2 submarine, then it would be aboard a U.S fleet boat such as these that I would do so. I would recommend "Steel Boat, Iron Heart" now available on Audible to read of somewhat more difficult conditions and the excellent "Iron Coffins" not yet on Audible to my knowledge which both tell the story of submarine warfare during the second world war from the German perspective.

At times it was difficult to visualize many of the locations mentioned in relation to land, inlets etc and I wonder if the paper version of this title has accompanying maps to better illustrate where things were taking place. Also, it would have been perhaps useful to give a little lesson to the reader in how firing solutions are gained for torpedo attacks. There's a bit of naval technical speak going on here which may lose some readers.

Apart from the minor caveats mentioned above, this is an overall excellent read and certainly a story worth a Hollywood movie. Narration was top notch too with Corey Snow's reading fluid and competent and as pacey as the book itself.

There is an interesting cross reference mentioned here with respect to the treatment of allied prisoners held by the Japanese. POW's were rescued by the Barb which were survivors from the USS Houston and HAMS Perth amongst others and an incident describing a short Japanese prison guard trying to strike a tall Australian is actually covered in the superb "Ship of Ghosts" book available on Audible which tells the harrowing story of these survivors and is abook amazing story you might want to consider.

Whether you have a particular interest in naval warfare or not, this book is an excellent and enthralling insight into the courage and fighting determination of an intelligent and very brave submarine commander.

Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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  • stig1875
  • 02-26-15

Brilliant Listen

This is not the normal type of book that I would normally listen to, but I could not put my IPod down, Luck Fluckey was a true natural born leader who men followed and the reason the allied forces won the second world war, I highly recommend it to everyone to give it a go you won't be disappointed, believe me.
Mark H

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mr Maurice A. Henry
  • 03-13-22

An amazing story of leadership in WW2

Some of the examples of how to lead and build a team in this biography are amazing. We don't have problems only solutions!

Great tales of courage, tactics and bravery in the world of submarine warfare during the War in the Pacific

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  • David W.
  • 03-01-22

Couldn’t stop listening

Compelling story of brave men, it’s easy to understand why they were called the greatest generation

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-18-21

Incredible stories by a captivating author

A captivating recollection of the incredible adventures of the Barb and her crew. I struggled to get into it at first due to the somewhat dry narration, but I warmed to it after a few chapters. It also took some time getting used to the naval terminology - the author assumes a basic understanding of submarine operation from the listener. But for submarine enthusiasts, this is an absolute joy to listen to!

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  • Paul C.
  • 09-28-21

Don't miss this wonderful book

Absolutely fantastic book.
What a legend, the Sub, Captain and Crew.
Should make a TV Series.

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  • M. Lech
  • 09-19-21

2nd time through the book and still loved it

This book is a great historical account and an inspiring book about leadership, creativity, boldness and innovation.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • 09-11-21

Outstanding

One of the best autobiographical audio books I have ever listened to. I am now going to struggle to find another listen to match it.

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  • Jonathan Foster
  • 08-25-21

Recommended by Smarter every day

Absolutely loved this book, a remarkable story of a truly remarkable man, crew and ship. I couldn't wait to get back to the narration. I felt as though I was actually there, gripping, exciting at times frightening, an astounding tale of what well trained and motivated men are capable of and all told with humility. strongly recommend.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-27-20

Some of the most fun I’ve had with an audio book

Overall a really good listen good action interesting edge of your seat events. The only down side to this book is the attempt at an Aussie accent which I can say as an Australian was almost physically painful to listen to. The narrators attempt at an Aussie accent went from a Texan with a lisp to about a half dozen different places in England but never went close to what I would call an Australian accent. But apart from that I would happily recommend this book to practically anyone

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-28-22

Wow. Well worth listening to.

I was skeptical about reading this one but so glad that I did. A captivating story of the USS Barb told by it's skipper. Wonderfully detailed and I seriously felt like I was on board the submarine. I found the Australian accents to be quite satisfactory despite other reviews. The narrator did a fine job and kept my interest throughout. I learnt so much while being enthralled by so many perilous missions.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-22-22

brilliant

started listening, it didn't take long to hook me, finished the book the following night. now I'd like more

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-14-22

great true stroty

got a bit repetitive but that is the basis of the story as it was.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-26-21

The most captivating book on the ww2 effort

What an incredible book really putting perspective on how good we have it and the incredible sacrifice men went through to allow us our freedoms today. I would have added a hand shake of Admiral Flucky to my bucket list. What a hero in every sense of the word!

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  • Rp96
  • 08-02-21

Amazing

had to buy a hard copy as well.one of the best books ive read/listened to

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  • Liz Millar
  • 07-07-21

Multiple Narrators

Would like to suggest a range of narrators, to make it easier to discern the relevant speakers.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-27-21

Very interesting book, based on actual accounts.

Quite an incredible account of WW2 submariners.
Very brave and gripping stories from an era that feels long ago. A grim reminder of the toll a world War has.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-06-21

Repeated listening.

WOW, WOW, WOW. What a book, repeat listening, LOVE IT. Highly recommended. Makes me want to be a submariner.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gene W
  • 10-31-20

Fun!

It was a great read realistic and intense, I highly recommend it.
If you are interested in realistic combat operations this is a good book. Much better than the Hollywood melodramatic horse hockey that is out there.