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I had never head of the S-Five before this account. I am a long time submarine book fan. It started for me in eight grade when I read "Run Silent, Run Deep." Since then, I have always been drawn to stories about submarines. When I saw this book come out on pre-order, I eagerly awaited it. I was not disappointed.
The story is terrifying and uplifting all at the same time. Hill does an excellent job as author giving just enough material to keep you interested but not too much to overwhelm the interested. Murray does an excellent job in narration. You can easily listen to this at 1.5X or even 2X.
This book will appeal to historians. Although this is a true story I think it will also appeal to science fiction readers. I recommend this book. give it a read.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
Fascinating and amazing story of near death at sea. The lost of the S-5 and rescue is a great tale.
Submarines are dangerous environments and were especially so during the fledgling years for the submarine back in 1920 when this account is from. This book tells the sobering story of the downing of U.S submarine S-5 and the incredible feats of ingenuity, endurance and determination as well as courage exhibited by the crew of the sunken submarine. People should not be put off by the fact this story is based in the complex machinery of a submarine as this is a human interest based account. Sure, there are some technical aspects to this but it's the gruelling and terrifying ordeal of these 40 men trapped in a doomed submarine that could prove to be their steel tomb that's covered so well here.
Reading this made me wonder just how many lost crews in similar situations had worked so hard and had been so desperate before they died such as the doomed survivors of the sinking of the Russian nuclear submarine, Kursk back in 2000. This book places the reader right into that sunken submarine and gives us an insight into the terrible conditions and plight of the men trapped some 180 feet below the waves with little hope of rescue. Although submarines were still a developing technology and were rather primitive by today's standards back then, it still amazed me just how poorly and thoughtlessly designed some critical systems were on those submarines. As ever and still a problem today, fixes and changes usually only come about after fatalities despite lengthy recommendations and lobbying for such changes beforehand.
The narration is competent if a little grating on the ear at times. In fact, as I came to the end of the book I realized that his voice rather reminded me at times of the actor Dan Acroid.
I did notice a couple of technical errors in the book though. It was mentioned that 37 gallons of fuel capacity was available to these type submarines but it is clear that 37 gallons would not get you over 5,000 miles and that it must have been perhaps 3,700 gallons. Also, it specified that one of the rescue ships was shorter than the S-5 at 257 feet but the S-5 was stated as being 231 feet long so an obvious error. Tiny errors aside, this is an enthralling study in the human condition when under extreme stress and the desperate measures taken to strive for survival against all odds.
Incidentally, to those who might be interested, at the end of the book a case involved a sister submarine, the S-51, it's sinking and salvage alluded to is covered in another book available on Audible entitled "On The Bottom: The Raising of the Submarine S-51" which tells the incredible tale of courage, daring and determination from the salvage crew working to raise the wreck and entombed bodies of the crew of the lost S51.
A good read and one that makes you think twice about what you might think of as a "bad day" at work.