I just had the pleasure of finishing Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward L. Beach. The author has many works on submarines, including Salt & Steel and Submarine. This work, a classic of naval literature, happens to be the first fictional work of his I’ve read. Both this novel and his non-fiction reveal an excellent touch for both narrative and historical detail. Run Silent, Run Deep starts off slowly with training at the submarine base in New Haven, CT, and the action slowly builds from more normal submarine patrols until the latter missions become reminiscent of the escapades of the U.S.S. Tang. The final patrol includes a hunt for a deadly anti-submarine vessel and her captain. The characters are easy to relate to, and the prose is quite readable.
Now, this book has long been on my list of things to read because of my lifelong love for the memoirs of WWII submariners; but, Run Silent, Run Deep is an excellent thriller, and many of my dear readers would love it for that reason alone. As may be expected from an Annapolis graduate of the class of 1939 and submarine officer, Beach adds a ton of realism to this gripping narrative. It is important to keep in mind that the U.S. submarine force sustained the highest losses by percentage in WWII of any department of the armed services. So, when so many of the characters’ friends are reported missing, that’s the kind of news one would be bombarded with after a patrol: a constant sense of loss. In one regard, that makes certain events in the final patrol more understandable. The novel is an excellent way for people to understand what it was like to serve on a WWII submarine without having to read a more ponderous memoir or history written by an academic.