Weir and Boyne have written a compelling account of the history of Soviet submarine warfare. Using both written accounts and interviews with men
who witnessed historic events, this may not be a complete history, but certainly it is a good overview book
that gives the reader a foundation to build on.
In between the accounts of
the rise of technology in the submarine program in the Soviet Union, the conflicts with American boats, and itemized appendix of Soviet boats detailing diving depth, tonnage, and special features, are the actions of bravery of men who went on what can only be termed as suicide missions. Though the government desperately wanted results from its submarine service, Soviet boats were almost at the end of the list in terms of budget for maintenance and
at a substandard level of safety for the crew.
In the introduction, the authors allude to a society that totally devalued the life of its people, resulting in a fatalistic view of life and work. The account of the nuclearization of the Russian navy to reactor power demonstrates this resignation to one's fate. When undeveloped nuclear reactors were put into the boats, it resulted in crew members volunteering for suicide missions to turn off overheated reactor cores. No matter their nation of origin, it is clear that men who serve on submarines are cut from a different cloth in their devotion to duty.
New information is offered on the Cuban missile crisis, Stalin's plans for a large, powerful navy, and insights into the recent Kursk accident. I was intrigued by the discussion of Soviet versus American approach to gathering intelligence - a brute force approach versus a clandestine approach. I recommend this book to anyone interested in