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We Were Pirates : A Torpedoman's Pacific War

Robert Hunt was everywhere that mattered in the Pacific war, serving as a Torpedoman on the submarine U.S.S. Tambor on 12 of its 13 war patrols.

He saw the fires on Wake Island when Japanese planes attacked in the first hours of the war, and he stood on the Tambor’s bow as it cruised into Pearl Harbor just days after the sneak attack. At the Battle of Midway, he peered through binoculars as his boat shadowed Japanese cruisers, and he spoke with American guerilla fighters in the Philippines when the sub ferried them guns and supplies. Across the Pacific he fired torpedoes that sank vital Japanese shipping, and on the bottom of the East China Sea he oversaw repairs in the forward torpedo room as the Tambor and its crew survived a near-fatal 17-hour depth-charge attack.

Robert Schultz and his co-writer James Shell draw upon Hunt’s diary, interviews, crew letters, photographs, captains’ reports, and historical research to view the progress of the Pacific War through the eyes of a submariner. Whether Hunt and his crewmates are in battle or on leave in Pearl Harbor or western Australia, the account is candid and vivid, providing a unique perspective not available in general histories or in officers’ accounts.

WE WERE PIRATES: A Torpedoman’s Pacific War (military history / biography) is available in bookstores, major booksellers’ websites, and at the website of the Naval Institute. Also available is a professionally-produced DVD containing 60 minutes of video interviews with Robert Hunt, Torpedoman on the USS Tambor submarine for 12 consecutive war patrols.

An engrossing, fascinating read. First rate history that’s also a page turner. Takes us deep into the most effective yet unheralded military campaign in U.S. history — the defeat of Imperial Japan through unrestricted submarine warfare.

– Alex Kershaw, author of The Bedford Boys and Escape from the Deep

Critical Praise

Americans know less than one might expect about the real war in the Pacific 1941-45. We Were Pirates will go a long way to correct that negligence. The story of Torpedoman Robert Hunt and the submarine USS Tambor is detailed, vivid, gripping, a close-up, unvarnished and unforgettable account of the most important naval campaign in United States history. In diary notes, photographs, maps and expert narrative, we relive the 12 patrols that helped change the face of our world.

– Robert Morgan, author of Boone: a Biography

You've seen the movies, but here's what it was really like--from the wild parties on shore to enduring 17 straight hours of depth-charging. A vivid and true tale told from the torpedo room of a sub on 12 war patrols.

– Evan Thomas, author of Days of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941-1945

On his daily walk through Decorah, Iowa, Robert Schultz often saw a light shining in his neighbor's basement. The man under the light bulb was Bob Hunt, working, at Robert's instigation, to write down his memories of being a submariner in the Pacific during the Second World War. Schultz and his coauthor James Shell have brought Hunt's story above ground. The result is a work of historical recovery and of narrative art, one that enlivens and deepens our sense of how ordinary Americans fought their war, and then lived out the long return home.

– David Wyatt, author of And the War Came: An Accidental Memoir

[O]ne of the few completely candid accounts of the submarine war in the Pacific Theater . . . distinctive for its enlisted man's, rather than officer's, perspective. It should be in all World War II collections.

– Library Journal

[A] uniquely rich and robust portrait of the sights, sounds, and smells of Hunt's world in the torpedo room of a small submarine and the life-changing experiences of a young man from Decorah, Iowa, sent around the world to defend his nation and the world.

– Taylor Baldwin Kiland, United States Navy Memorial, Washington, D.C

[M]ore than just personal recollections, but well annotated with the historical context of what was happening at the time, much of which Torpedoman Hunt could not have known at the time.

– Captain Edward H. Lundquist (Ret.), Naval Forces magazine