A vividly detailed account of life aboard U.S. submarines in the Pacific during World War II.
An understated but absorbing journal from a veteran of 11 underseas missions in the close quarters of a fleet submarine against Japanese shipping during WW II's Pacific campaigns. A 1939 graduate of the US Naval Academy who went on to become a rear admiral, Mendenhall was a junior ensign aboard the Sculpin in Manila Bay when news came of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Within hours, the sub was off on the first of seven combat patrols in which the author participated. Detached in mid-1943, Mendenhall returned to the States, where he was married and helped oversee final construction of the Pintado, a better-equipped craft on which he was executive officer for four more wide-ranging tours of duty. The author's matter-of-fact account of the silent service's workaday risks, rewards, tedium, terrors, fraternity, and frustrations includes a seabagful of salty tales, plus just enough technical detail to convey the rigors of surface as well as underwater engagements. Like most members of sub crews, Mendenhall was frequently outraged by the design deficiencies that caused too many torpedoes to malfunction during the war's initial stages; eventually, however, ordnance improved, and his boats took a heavy toll on enemy vessels. With obvious affection for virtually all of his shipmates, a collectively gallant, good-natured, and efficient (if individually eccentric) lot, Mendenhall offers an engrossing day-by-day log that attests to the fact that military history is made on a very personal level. The text, which compares most favorably with I.J. Galantin's Take Her Deep! (1987), has 12 pages of contemporary photographs, plus two helpful maps. (Kirkus Reviews)