Thursday, May 9, 2013

Guest Review: Operation Storm

Summary: In 1941, the architects of Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor planned a bold follow-up: a potentially devastating air raid--this time against New York City and Washington, DC. The classified Japanese program required developing a squadron of top secret submarines--the Sen-toku or I-400 class--which were, by far, the largest and among the most deadly subs of World War II.  Incredibly, the subs were designed as underwater aircraft carriers, each equipped with three Aichi M6A1 attack bombers painted to look like US aircraft. The bombers, called Seiran (which translates as “storm from a clear sky”), were tucked in a huge, water tight hanger on the sub’s deck. The subs mission was to travel more than half way around the world, surface on the US coast, and launch their deadly air attack. This entire operation was unknown to US intelligence, despite having broken the Japanese naval code. And the amazing thing is how close the Japanese came to pulling off their mission.  -- Crown

I'm sure you're not surprised that the review for OPERATION STORM: JAPAN'S TOP SECRET SUBMARINES AND ITS PLAN TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF WORLD WAR II by John Geoghegan is written by my dad and not me! When I heard about this book, I had a feeling that he'd appreciate it way more than I ever could. Here are his thoughts:

OPERATION STORM by John Geoghegan is an account of a little known World War top secret plan formed by the Japanese to use super-sized submarines with special designed attack aircraft to attack New York and Washington D.C. The United States was intercepting most Japanese communications at the time but was not aware of this plan

 Japan knew they could not sustain a protracted war with the United States so Isoroku Yamamoto, the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor, devised a plan that would take the war to the United States mainland in an effort to demoralize America’s desire to continue the war. Even though the Japanese had already launched several bombing runs over Oregon, they knew they needed a much more dramatic attack. The plan involved the construction of 18 mammoth submarines each over 400 feet long that could stay at sea for 4 months and carry two aircraft.

In 1943 as the Japanese moved toward imminent defeat, they continued the program as a matter of pride but were forced to substantially reduce the scope. In actuality the Japanese built only three subs, two made it out to sea and neither ever fired a torpedo or launched an aircraft. They also switched their target from the mainland to the Panama Canal.

While the failed Japanese plan probably deserves no more than a footnote in the history of World War II, Geoghegan’s thorough research into the details gives him a basis to create a very interesting story. Geoghegan’s primary focus is on one of the two active super-subs called I-401. While on its final mission I-401 encountered a U. S. sub called Secundo. The signing of the peace treaty with Japan was only five days away but this chance meeting could restart the war if not handled properly.

Two of the main characters from the Japanese side were Nobukiyo Nambu and Tatsunosuki Ariizumi, both commanders on the I-401. Their personalities were absolute opposites and it’s interesting to read how each reacted to the Japanese surrender. The author’s account of their prior war activity highlights the Japanese massacre of American sailors during the war. The personal stories about the Japanese officers, sailors and fighter pilots and their families gives the reader an insight into the Japanese tradition and drive that allowed them to almost pull off this daring mission.

The American commander of the Secundo, Captain Lobdell Johnson, his rise through the Navy ranks and his handling of the potential crisis also add an interesting element to the novel.

John Geoghegan’s OPERATION STORM is a well researched and well written novel that tells an interesting story about a relatively unknown Japanese submarine program. The creative technology utilized in the program is well documented, but the most interesting aspect of his book is the stories about the principle players on both the Japanese and American sides. Anyone interested in World War II history will enjoy this book.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book and thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his outstanding review.


bermudaonion said...

Wow, I'm wondering why I've never heard of this or the bombing of Oregon! There is so much history I don't know!

Beth F said...

What Kathy said! I bet my dad would like this one.

Anna said...

I haven't heard of this either, so this book sounds fascinating to me.