Thomas Parrish, Author . Viking $29.95 (476p) ISBN 978-0-670-03313-3

This readable if uneven history of the submarine takes the subject from David Bushnell's Turtle , which carried out the first submarine combat mission in 1776, to the Russian Kursk , whose explosion in 2000 was the latest of many disasters in the accident-prone Soviet and Russian fleet. In between are basically four episodes in the creation of undersea warfare. Late–19th-century developments culminated with engineer John Philip Holland's dual-propulsion system. By WWI, the unrestricted submarine warfare that was supposed to win the war for Germany lost it by bringing in the United States. In WWII, U-boats were again nearly decisive, and the U.S. subs in the Pacific actually were. Finally, in the postwar era, the nuclear submarine carrying ballistic missiles has become the ultimate deterrent. Parrish's coverage in each period varies among technical developments (a plethora of faulty torpedoes), combat operations (including strategy), heroic captains (e.g., Mush Morton of Wahoo ) and inventors (Holland, Rickover and Raborn, the father of Polaris). Add a certain number of glitches (the British X-craft used dropped mines, not ones attached by divers against Tirpitz ), but also add in smooth and even witty writing, and the result is a most respectable book. It may not be the seasoned experts' ideal, but it should set the new armchair submariner sailing off into the extensive and up-to-date bibliography. Agent, Stuart Krichevsky. 4-city author tour; 20-city radioi satellite tour. (On sale May 10)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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