Book Review: Twenty-Three Minutes to Eternity: The Final Voyage of the Escort Carrier USS Liscome Bay


by James L. Noles Jr.

Tuscaloosa: University Alabama Press, 2010. Pp. xxi, 250. Illus., Map, notes, biblio., index. $19.95 paper. ISBN: 0817356037

On November 23, 1943, near Makin Atoll, in the Gilbert Islands, a Japanese submarine put a torpedo into the USS Liscome Bay (CVE 56).   The Kaiser-built “jeep carrier” went down in 23 minutes, with heavy loss of life.

Independent historian Noles, author, among other works, of Mighty by Sacrifice: The Destruction of an American Bomber Squadron (2009) and John Pelham (2004), rightly devotes the first half of the book to setting the stage.  Thus, we get to know the ship and her crew, from Rear Admiral Henry M. Mullinix to Cook 3 rd Class, Dorie Miller, a hero of Pearl Harbor, in a sometimes very detailed look at life and work aboard a jeep carrier at war. 

In the second half of the book, noles gives us a very fast-paced look at the ship’s final 23 minutes.  He recounts, often in great detail,  the experiences of the survivors, many of whom he interviewed, following some of them through to the end of the war and beyond. 
A very good account of one of the worst disasters to overtake an American warship, Twenty-Three Minutes to Eternity is also a very good introduction to life and service in the fleet during World Wa    r II,

Reviewer: A.A. Nofi   

Buy it at



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close