Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

'Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em', a Book Review

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by George Patton, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,123
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I picked this book up a few weeks ago at a Barnes and Noble, and finished it on the plane last night. Here's my review.
    "Find 'Em, Chase 'Em, Sink 'Em" by Mike Ostlund tells the story of the USS Gudgeon (the first one, SS-211), one of the most successful submarines of the USN in WWII. According to post-war analysis, in 11 war patrols she sunk between 71000 and 81000 tons of enemy shipping. On her first war patrol, just weeks after Pearl Harbor, she sank the Japanese submarine I-73 -- in doing so, she became the first US Navy sub to sink an enemy warship. She later became the first submarine to deliver a Filipino guerrilla group into enemy territory, and rescued over twenty Australian commandos from the Phillipines. On her 12th patrol, she was mysteriously sunk with all hands at an unknown position. The author's uncle -- Lt. Bill Ostlund -- was serving as her torpedo officer at the time. In addition to providing a detailed history of the submarine, Ostlund also comes up with a convincing theory for her loss.

    The Good:

    • A very detailed, well-researched book
    • Ostlund comes up with a good theory to explain her loss, which is backed up by both Japanese and American documents
    • Includes interviews with several surviving crew members (all from earlier patrols), providing much personal information
    • Interviews give a good feeling for what it was like on a long WWII submarine patrol (described as "boredom punctuated by short periods of fear", or something along those lines)
    • Has a wide scope. The book doesn't just cover the Gudgeon or Ostlund's uncle, but instead constantly references other submarines and their impact on the war. And rather surprisingly, it does not do so in a 'thanks-for-pointing-out-the-obvious' way.

    The Bad:
    • Let down by sub-par structure. For example, many times two or even three completely separate events are grouped into the same paragraph and some of the attack 'summaries' are hard to follow.
    • The same thing tends to be repeated several times, specifically in regards to the 'first-person' content. This is likely done in an attempt to ensure the reader follows the book OK, but I find it annoying.
    • Many times I found the war patrol chapters 'dry'. While this is not entirely the author's fault (WWII sub patrols were not exciting affairs most of the time), it doesn't help that the same thing is repeated several times in a way that almost feels like a 'filler'. He tries to make it more interesting by adding crew member biographies in the middle of the chapter, but I found this distracting.

    Other Observations:
    • I was impressed by the level of research, which I haven't seen in many books about a single ship.
    • Ostlund has me 'sold' on his theory for Gudgeon's loss. In a post-war interview, a Japanese pilot claimed sinking a submarine off 'Yuoh Island' in 1944. After a extensive search, Ostlund found that this is a reference to Iwo Jima ('Yuoh', or 'Yuo', means 'sulfur', and sounds similar to 'Iwo'). He found records of the air group that the pilot belonged to, and had them translated from Japanese into English. They backed up this theory. Additionally, he states that sub commander Ned Beach (who has written an excellent book) claimed to hear about an attack similiar to the alledged Gudgeon attack during the war. When coupled with the other evidence, I'd say this it he most likely theory.
    • I should note that Ostlund is not an author by trade. He wrote this book after first launching a search to find out what happened to his uncle. It was only after he formulated his theory that he was encouraged to write the book. From reading it, I get the feeling that he is not writing this for money or fame, but because he genuinely cares about the subject and bringing closure to it. Hence, I can 'overlook' a lot of the structural problems.

    Conclusion:
    • This is a very well-researched and informative book that is let down by its writing. Still, I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Pacific submarine warfare. Rating: 3.5/5
     
    lwd and belasar like this.
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,184
    Likes Received:
    1,076
    Once again, another fine review!

    Sounds like this is a book of passion written by the author to commemorate his forebear's. This is agod thing for otherwise this story could easily be lost to history. We sometimes forget that the war was made up by many such stories that deserve to be told.

    Reminds me of a small self published book given to me to read the last time I ventured to W.Va. to visit one of my brothers. I was a history of Greenbriar county and its foundation. A story about a logging community, that would never find a mass market, yet charming in its own way as it gave ordinary people who history might overlook a voice.

    Keep the good stuff coming!

     
  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,123
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    You phrased it much better than I did. That's the impression I got.
     

Share This Page