Catherine Musemeche

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

The untold true story of Mary Sears, the “first oceanographer of the Navy,” whose revolutionary research fueled the U.S. victory over Japan in the Pacific during WWII.

When World War II began, the U.S. Navy was unprepared to enact its island-hopping strategy to reach Japan. Anticipating tides, planning for coral reefs, and preparing for enemy fire was new ground for them, and with lives at stake it was ground that had to be covered quickly. They turned to Mary Sears, an overlooked oceanographer with untapped talent who, along with a team of colorful and quirky marine scientists, became instrumental in turning the tide of the war in the United States’ favor. Filled with incredible original photos, Musemeche’s exhilarating account reveals how Sears overcame sexism, agism, and rejection by the Navy and made lifesaving predictions on the eve of major battles. Vivid, empowering, and meticulously researched, Musemeche shines a light on a hidden chapter of American history and finally gives due to the brilliant contributions of Sears and her team.

Weaving together science, biography, and military history, Lethal Tides is a powerful, revelatory history essential to our understanding of oceanography and naval strategy, and—more importantly—chronicles the gripping story of an unsung woman who was pivotal to the U.S.’s success against Japan in WWII.

[Recorded February 23, 2023]

History Camp Authors

    America's Summer Roadtrip 2020

      Catherine Musemeche

      Dr. Catherine “Kate” Musemeche is a graduate of the University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston, Texas and the University of Texas School of Law. She has been a pediatric surgeon for more than three decades. Musemeche’s first book, Small, was longlisted for the E.O. Wilson/Pen American Literary Science Award and was awarded the Texas Writer’s League Discovery Prize for Nonfiction in 2015. Her second book, Hurt, was named one of the top ten EMS books of the decade. She has also contributed to Smithsonian Magazine, the Wall Street Journal,  New York Times’ “Motherlode” blog, KevinMD.comCreative Nonfiction magazine and EMS World. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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