Selected Histories and Biographies

The submarine has influenced more than just the outcome of the wars of the 20th Century. It has become an object of fascination for those drawn to the allure and mystique surrounding the Silent Service. Popular culture has both canonized and damned the submarine and their crews. However, it cannot be denied that the submarine has played a major role in both film and print since its inception 100 years ago. The following is a selection of books on submarines, submarine history, and the men who made and fought them.

Histories and Biographies

Alden, John D., The Fleet Submarine in the U.S. Navy: A Design and Construction History (Naval Institute Press, 1979). Important source of design information on the fleet boats of the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.

Alden, John D., U.S. Submarine Attacks During World War II: Including Allied Submarine Attacks in the Pacific (Naval Institute Press, 1989).

Blair, Clay, Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War against Japan (Lippincott, 1975). Classic history of U.S. submarine campaign in the Pacific.

Bouslog, Dave, Maru Killer: The War Patrols of the USS Seahorse (Seahorse Books, 1996). Story of the Seahorse (SS-304).

Calvert, James F., Surface at the Pole: The Extraordinary Voyages of the USS Skate (U.S. Naval Institute, 1996; paper). Story of Skate (SSN-578), the third nuclear-powered submarine and the first to break through the ice to surface at the North Pole.

Campbell, R. Thomas, The CSS H.L. Hunley: Confederate Submarine (White Mane Publishing, 1999).

Clancy, Tom, Submarine: A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship (Berkley Publishing Group, 1993; paper). A look into the workings of a Los Angeles (SSN-688I)-class submarine.

Friedman, Norman, U.S. Submarines since 1945: An Illustrated Design History (Naval Institute Press, 1994). Detailed discussion of design evolution in U.S. submarines since World War II; not an easy read, but a good reference source, and has a very useful list giving a thumbnail history of every U.S. submarine during this period.

Friedman, Norman, U.S. Submarines through 1945: An Illustrated Design History (U.S. Naval Institute, 1995). The prequel to the earlier volume on submarines since 1945.

Gannon, Robert, Hellions of the Deep: The Development of American Torpedoes in World War II (Penn State, 1996).

Gardner, W.J.R., Anti-Submarine Warfare (Brassey's, 1996).

Gray, Edwyn, The Devil's Device: Robert Whitehead and the History of the Torpedo (Naval Institute Press, 1991). History of the invention of the "automobile torpedo" during the 19th century.

Gugliotta, Bobette. Pigboat 39: An American Sub Goes to War (Kentucky, 2000; paper). Story of the K-8 (SS-39) in World War I.

Holmes, Harry, The Last Patrol (Naval Institute Press, 1994). History of the 52 U.S. submarines lost during World War II.

Hoyt, Edwin Palmer, Bowfin: The Story of One of America's Fabled Fleet Submarines in World War II (Burford Books, 1998; paper). Story of WWII submarine.

Lavo, Carl, Back from the Deep: The Strange Story of the Sister Subs Squalus and Sculpin (Naval Institute Press, 1998; paper) Account of the loss of Squalus (SS-192-raised and recommissioned as Sailfish) in 1939, the sinking of Sculpin (SS-494) in World War II, and the experiences of Sculpin's survivors as prisoners of war.

Leary, William M., Under Ice: Waldo Lyon and the Development of the Arctic Submarine (Texas A&M, 1999; paper) Study of the development of under-ice capabilities in submarines.

Lockwood, Charles A., and Hans Christian Adamson, Hell at Fifty Fathoms (Chilton Co., 1962).

Lockwood, Charles A., and Hans Christian Adamson, Hellcats of the Sea (Greenberg, 1955).

Lockwood, Charles A., and Hans Christian Adamson, Through Hell and Deep Water: The Stirring Story of the Navy's Deadly Submarine, the USS Harder, Under the Command of Sam Dealey, Destroyer Killer! (Greenberg, 1956).

Maas, Peter, The Terrible Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History (HarperCollins, 1999; paper) Story of Swede Momsen and the rescue of the crew of Squalus (SS-192) in 1939.

Williams, Marion D. Submarines Under Ice: The U.S. Navy's Polar Operations (Naval Institute Press, 1998). History of under-ice operations up to the early 1960s.

Michno, Gregory, USS Pampanito: Killer-Angel (Oklahoma, 2000). Story of Pampanito (SS-383) in World War II.

Morris, Richard Knowles, John P. Holland, 1841-1914: Inventor of the Modern Submarine (South Carolina, 1998; paper). Biography of the father of the American submarine.

Padfield, Peter, War Beneath the Sea: Submarine Conflict in World War II (John Wiley & Sons, 1998; paper). Detailed account of the submarine operations by the various participants in World War II.

Polmar, Norman, and Thomas B. Allen, Rickover, A Biography: Controversy and Genius (Simon & Schuster, 1982; paper).

Poluhowich, John J., Argonaut: The Submarine Legacy of Simon Lake (Texas A&M, 1996). Biography of one of the most innovative early submarine designers.

Rockwell, Theodore, The Rickover Effect: The Inside Story of How Admiral Hyman Rickover Built the Nuclear Navy (John Wiley & Sons, 1995; paper). Salutory account of the controversial admiral by his former technical director.

Roscoe, Theodore, United States Submarine Operations in World War II (U.S. Naval Institute, 1949). First official history of the submarine campaign and still useful, but written before key disclosures of WWII classified information.

Sapolsky, Harvey M., The Polaris System Development: Bureaucratic and Programmatic Success in Government (Harvard, 1972). Important study of then-RADM William Raborn and the Polaris Program.

Sasgen, Peter, Red Scorpion: War Patrols of the USS Rasher (Naval Institute Press, 1995). Account of Rasher (SS-269)'s WWII service.

Sontag, Sherry, and Christopher Drew, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage (PublicAffairs Press, 1998). Journalistic and provocative account of secret submarine operations during the Cold War.