Bacalao by J. T. McDaniel

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

A Fictional WWII Submarine Techno-thriller! There have been many excellent books written about WWII submarine warfare over the decades. One would think that this genre was over done and that nothing new or better could done with this theme—and you would be wrong! J. T. McDaniel has a great tale to tell through a fictional sub and its crew in his novel called “Bacalao.” This one will eventually join the ranks of old naval classic submarine stories like “Run Silent, Run Deep” and a very short list of others that are considered classic war stories.

McDaniel has captured the emotions of the sub crews and what seems to me, as a technically accurate portrayal of what these subs were really like. He paints with his words visual images that are mixed into real historic back drops of time and place to create a feeling that this all could have happened. I believed in the story line and the people and the sub itself.

The writing is brilliant and the reader will have little trouble following the plot. The book takes you from the construction of the submarine in Connecticut, through Pearl Harbor and onto patrol in the Pacific. The author allows the story to unfold from the view point of Laurence Miller who rose from junior officer to the commanding officer of the Bacalao. This works very well for telling this story.

The book is a good read and will keep you interested from the first couple of pages to the ending. 

Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2005)

Author's Synopsis
When Lieutenant Lawrence Miller first sees U.S.S. Bacalao in the builder's yard in late 1940, the submarine is little more than a pile of curved steel plates. During the next few months Miller watches the boat take shape, and the crew gather from throughout the fleet. By late 1941 Bacalao is in commission and assigned to the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Then, on a Sunday morning, everything changes as the Japanese sneak attack plunges the United States into World War II. The new submarine and her untried crew are immediately thrown into action against the Japanese. And Miller is there through it all, from the disastrous first patrol, when the boat is nearly lost and a pair of surprising heroes emerge, to the deployment to Australia, where a chance encounter ashore will change his life forever. Then, after spending a year in command of an antiquated S-boat in the frozen hell of the Aleutians, Miller returns to Bacalao as her last wartime commander. Written in a simple, straightforward style, Bacalao is destined to become an instant classic of submarine fiction.