Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II

Morrow. Aug. 2022. 336p. ISBN 9780062991690. $28.99. MILITARY HISTORY
A fascinating book that will be received well by scholars and casual readers of history, marine science, military operations, and women’s studies, Musemeche’s work shares the story of Mary Sears, an oceanographer who joined the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) during World War II. She went on to lead a key 400-person scientific research department. Defying gender expectations of her time, Sears diligently guided her unit, providing key intelligence to naval strategists, significantly aiding in their efforts in the Pacific and Europe. The reports of the Naval Oceanographic Unit helped pilots and sailors navigate the oceans, streamlined shore landings, and enabled submarines to escape enemy detection. Plagued by sexism in her early career, Sears and her colleagues continued to face discrimination in the Navy, even as they provided essential knowledge and worked tirelessly on behalf of the military efforts. Other vibrant members of the team, including scientists and one expert librarian, are also profiled.
VERDICT An engaging, thorough story about a worthwhile subject. This biography beautifully captures the energy, sacrifice, and commitment of military personnel working in the U.S. in the 1940s and makes clear the importance of their scientific contributions to the outcome of World War II.
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