Some books are an amazing surprise; this one is one of the best. Thomas Parrish takes a subject that could be dry as dust and infuses it with humor and a touch of Peyton Place to make this one of the most enjoyable historical reads I've ever come across. He does not forget that history is made up of people - not just events - and takes great care to include the very human reactions and motivations behind the events that led up to the modern submarine corps.
For example, I remember from my high school history class that Robert Fulton was the creator of the steamboat, but I had no idea he was involved with the development of the submarine. Further, it was never mentioned that Fulton became acquainted with an American couple while in France who insisted he come and live with them in, some evidence suggests, a menage a trois. This small insight into his personal life would certainly have improved my focus and memory in high school.
This five hundred-plus page book looks - and is - very serious and thorough; it is the writer's skill that keeps the reader engrossed in every development from Bushnell's Turtle, a one man submersible whose propeller was powered by foot pedals created in 1775, up to the modern-day nuclear submarines Parrish ends with the disaster of the Russian submarine Kursk, whose entire crew died after an explosion on board in August 2000.
The invention of the U-boat changed history quietly and often without fanfare. I give this book five stars and highly recommend it to anyone interested in naval history.