Thursday, August 1, 2013

Run Silent, Run Deep by Commander Edward L. Beach

Growing up, my father would recommend  great war motion pictures. One of the great ones, he recommended and was viewed often in our home was the 1950’s hit Run Silent Run Deep with heavy weights Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster (it was a film in which comedian Don Rickles had his movie debut), a submarine drama during WWII.

My father trying to motivate me to read, suggesting perhaps that such a drama in print would keep my attention, placed the Reader’s Digest condensed version upon which the film is loosely based in front of me.  At the time, however, I enjoyed watching movies or playing ball and lacked the motivation to pick up the book.  Reading was very difficult for me in those days.

I finally took out the complete version from the library. Although the book is nothing like the film, my father was correct in his original suggestion:  it kept my attention!

I learned an important feature about being in the Navy and Submarine duty specifically: the tasks on ship require technical training.  Navy life is not simple soldiering.  Each task on a Submarine for example, requires a serious education.  The Navy is always on the cutting edge of technology.  For example, shooting a torpedo at a zig zagging Destroyer requires geometric calculation which requires skill and training.

The climax of the book is completely different than the film.  The book ends with a shocking assault against Japanese survivors of their sinking ship.  Commander Richardson deliberately plows his submarine into the remaining life rafts and life boats precluding any possibility of rescue.  Richardson is racked with guilt for committing murder – however, war becomes a justification and vengeance for Japanese atrocities seem to assuage the protagonist’s guilt.  I believe had this been a true event today, such a commander would have been court-martialed  instead of receiving the Medal of Honor as the protagonist does in the book!

The book is an engaging fast read about a "cat and mouse" game in the Pacific theater after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle at Mid Way Island.

No comments:

Post a Comment