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In September 1776 British Admiral Lord Howe, in his 74-gun ship of the line, "Eagle", was in New York port to support the forces opposing George Washington as they advanced on the city. Suddenly the sailors spotted a small egg-shaped vessel lying nearby just under the waterline. From it came another, smaller object which floated toward their ship. Wisely, they sheered off, just as the object exploded, sending up a plume of water. The very first submarine-launched torpedo had gone off and made history. Hardly a rip-roaring success for its inventor, Yale graduate David Bushnell - but a foretaste of things to come. The submarines of World War II were 200 feet long, about the size of four London underground carriages put together, and a good deal of the space was taken up by the engine and water tank. On the surface, with its deck so close to the waterline, the ship is subject to all the worst effects of wind and weather. Below the water the atmosphere is claustrophobic, and air quality soon deteriorates. This book conjures up the peculiar combination of physical hardships and the feelings of danger, excitement and camaraderie that are the submariner's lot. Drawing on written records and dozens of interviews, author Michael Gunton tells the history of submarines during two world wars concentrating on the experience of officers and men who served and fought - all incredibly young - from all the leading maritime nations.

Michael Gunton author, published by Constable & Robinson Ltd, 258pp, h/c, dj with plastic cover, b&w photos.

Spine slightly skewed, ex library copy in reasonably clean and tidy condition.

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  • Seller location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, NZ

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