Review: Rising Tide – The Untold Story of the Russian Submarines That Fought the Cold War, by Walter J Boyne

First I want to thank Hakkikt, down on Tasmania, for his mention of this book, on the Recently Reads thread over at Shejidan. Without that mention I never ever would had found it.

Second I want to buy this book. I thought this would be a prime candidate for a library loan, but as soon as I got it in my hand I knew I wanted it on MY shelf. Having actually finished the book I still plan to get it.

This suggests it was a good book, and that it was. It is based on interviews made with Russian submarine officers, many of them commanders, and through these stories the history of Soviet submarine corps is sketched – triumphs and disasters alike, and always with a look at the policies and politics that motivated the decisions. We get behind the scenes in covert actions against the US but we also get to hear how politics killed people through means of defective materiel forced through the production process in too much haste, and we get to hear it from the people who were affected by it.

Rising Tide can be read by anyone; no need to know much about submarines or munitions, thankfully, but a knowledge of the Cold War and about recent history makes for a better reading experience.

My main complaint is a small one. Every now and again the repressive culture of the Soviet Union, firmly based in a lack of respect for human life, is alluded to, as it was specific to Soviet. In reality this has a much longer history and has taken different faces as time has passed. Also I think the story would had gained if the passionate tone of the last third of the book had been more present during the previous two thirds. These are minor points, though.

A readable book, for anyone with an interest in the subject matters – politics, history, and, to a lesser degree – management and psychology. And of course for all those of us who think submarines, much like space ships, are fascinating ;-)

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