The best books about submarine warfare during World War II

John J. Geoghegan Author Of Operation Storm: Japan's Top Secret Submarines and Its Plan to Change the Course of World War II
By John J. Geoghegan

The Books I Picked & Why

I-Boat Captain

By Zenji Orita, Joseph D. Harrington

Book cover of I-Boat Captain

Why this book?

This is the first book I’ve ever read written by a Japanese sub commander that describes submarine warfare from the Japanese point of view. Few Japanese sub commanders survived the war, so how Orita lived to tell the tale is just one of the many remarkable stories he recounts in his book. Not only does it read like a suspense thriller, you’ll have newfound respect for the suffering he and his crews went through. Bottom line: The Japanese version of Das Boot!


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Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-Boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II

By Michael Gannon

Book cover of Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-Boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II

Why this book?

Few people understand just how lousy the East Coast of the United States was with U-boats during the opening months of World War II. Operating with virtual impunity, they sank tankers and merchant ships up and down the coast for nearly a year before the U.S. finally organized an effective defense. Gannon does an excellent job both setting the scene and relating the history of the U-boat war—a story that few people know but will keep you riveted.


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Sunk: The Story of the Japanese Submarine Fleet, 1941-1945

By Mochitsura Hashimoto

Book cover of Sunk: The Story of the Japanese Submarine Fleet, 1941-1945

Why this book?

Hashimoto was the Japanese sub captain of the I-58, who sank the USS Indianapolis shortly after it delivered the atomic bomb in the closing days of World War II. The story of the Indianapolis has been told in several excellent books including, “In Harms Way” and “Fatal Voyage” as well as the movie, “Jaws,” but never from the Japanese point of view. How Hashimoto and his crew survived the war is integral to this story which makes The Hunt for Red October seem like child’s play. And it’s all true!


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Undersea Victory: The Influence of Submarine Operations on the War in the Pacific

By W. J Holmes

Book cover of Undersea Victory: The Influence of Submarine Operations on the War in the Pacific

Why this book?

Undersea Victory is the definitive history of submarine warfare in the Pacific during World War II. Holmes was a giant in the field and really knows his stuff. You’ll come away having a much greater appreciation for how sub combat operations were conducted both by the U.S. and Japan. Importantly, Holmes doesn’t hesitate to tell you the good and the bad regardless of which side he’s writing about. No sub enthusiast’s library is complete without it.


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Run Silent, Run Deep

By Edward L. Beach

Book cover of Run Silent, Run Deep

Why this book?

This is one of the classics that started it all. Although fiction, Beach was a sub commander during World War II who fought against the Japanese. As a result, he really knows his stuff. The sometimes fraught personal dynamics between sub commanders and their first officers (as well as the crew) are one of the driving forces of this narrative. And you’ll never forget Bungo Pete!


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