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Submarine boats: The beginnings of…
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Submarine boats: The beginnings of underwater warfare

by Richard Compton-Hall

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As the subtitle says, this is a history of early submarines. The author is British and like many British writers I have enjoyed, his approach is a bit unorthodox. The book starts off with an excellent chapter on the introduction of the early Holland boats into Royal Navy service, then jumps back in time with a few chapters about the earliest submarines like the Revolutionary War era Turtle, the Confederate Hunley and a few other odd ones, before ending up discussing Holland and his submarines. He then continues with more about the early service of submarines in the Royal Navy before the first world war.

The book is primarily focused on the Royal Navy, although he does discuss submarines in navies of other nations. There are many photographs, although some are of poor quality, this being due more to the original photo rather than the reproduction in the book. If there is a complaint it is that many of the photos are small, as the book is laid out in two columns per page with some photos only being a column wide. The double column format does mean that for a book of under two hundred pages there is quite a lot of text.

There are quite a number of anecdotes and stories included from actual crews who served on the boats which not only give an excellent insight on what it was like to man these boats, but also give a more human picture of the crews. Many are quite entertaining and remind the reader that no matter how deadly serious the purpose for which these boats were built, they were crewed by humans who could laugh, play pranks and otherwise behave like real people. ( )
  jztemple | Apr 15, 2016 |
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