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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
The sinking of the USS Thresher with 129 aboard in 1963 sent the Navy into a fit of paranoia and secrecy from which it's never recovered. The Court of Inquiry degenerated into a circus of buck-passing, double-speak, and anything even remotely controversial was immediately labeled "classified information." To this day, no one knows what caused the loss of the Navy's newest, most competent submarine, but subsequent investigations all but proved that she went to sea with hundreds of substandard pipe joints in the engineering spaces, one of which probably burst, triggering the disaster.

Of the two books dealing with the Thresher sinking (the other being John Bentley's "The Thresher Disaster"), Polmar's book is the calmer and less opinionated of the two, but it is also unsatisfying. Polmar toes the Navy party line for the most part, only suggesting that the sinking might have been hastened by an inadvertent reactor shutdown due to flooding from a burst seawater pipe (a conclusion that so enraged Admiral Rickover that he vowed never to have anything to do with Polmar again.)

Polmar simply lays out the timeline of Thresher's career, her last cruise, and the subsequent inquiry. He glosses over the laundry list of discrepencies that were uncovered during Thresher's workup before she sailed, and the buck-passing and blame-shifting that occured during the inquiry.

The recent publication of Stephen Johnson's "Silent Steel", focusing on the subsequent Scorpion disaster highlights this book's real fault -- at no time do we get a picture of the human beings who were aboard Thresher as she sank to her doom. We see brief glimpses of Captain Dean Axene, Thresher's first CO, and of John Harvey, who was in command on her last dive. But these officers are presented as black-and-white individuals, and of the crew we see even less.

Scandalously missing from this "revised" edition is any conversation with Lt. Raymond McCoole, reactor controls officer, who missed Thresher's final voyage through a stroke of fate. McCoole probably knew more about Thresher's fatal flaws than anyone (and he revealed some of them to author Bentley.)

One wonders how much Polmar was pressured to keep this work "sanitized" to avoid Navy embarassment. Or perhaps he simply wanted to avoid alienating his Navy contacts. Either way, it's only half the story. Bentley's work is overwrought and comes to some dubious conclusions, but the Navy's culpability in the sinking is laid bare. Not so with Polmar's work, which, though informative, is ultimately a disappointment.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
"The Death of the USS Thresher" is a pretty short book. Mostly because no one has any idea what happened to the Thresher

So what we get is 3(!) re-tellings of the exact same story in the first few chapters, some speculation about what could have happened, which i found interesting, and then the book wanders off to talk about other submarine sinkings and modern day procedures on submarine rescue

Of this 200 page book, probably only about 100 pages are about the "Death of the Thresher", and all of the other information is presented in plenty of other books on the subject of submarines

Unless you are a complete newcomer to the subject, I wouldn't reccomend this book to you. All of the Thresher-related information in it would be found in a single chapter in some other book on the subject of submarine sinkings or salvage, and you'd get a better handling of the non-Thresher material in those books as well

For instance, one of the books on the Kursk sinking briefly mentioned the Thresher and the Scorpion sinkings, and hit all the major points this book made while doing a 10x better job on the Kursk. So why not get that book instead?

If you are just obsessed with submarines and want to fill out your library, or are related to someone mentioned in this book, I could see getting it, otherwise try a different one. Hope that helps
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was a little disappointed in the brevity of the book and the fact that the subject matter wandered at the end of the book. I am a submariner and was familiar with the Thresher design. Perhaps that was the problem - me, not the book. I found it 'sparse' with detail but it did have a good background on the SS(N)-593 design considerations. An internet search for "USS Thresher" will reveal a lot of the same information that can be found in this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
This is a very well done book and provides very good insights into the loss of this great boat and crew. Submarining has always been and always been dangerous business even if not at war. I learned a lot from this book even though I am an avid Nuclear Submarine Fan, especially the attack boats. Having had the privilege to ride Greenling for a week in 1975, I have a unique appreciation for Thresher since Greenling was a Thresher Class boat that actually got delayed after the accident.
Well done. Dennis Mosebey
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found the Polmar book on the USS Thresher disaster to be a quick and interesting read but the large number of typos revealed that proof reading was clearly not a priority for the author. these offbeat incursions removed much of the enjoyment from the book.

Now it is on to the Bentley treatment of the same incident.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
As with all Submarine books, they seem to leave out the details that I want to read. But then again I like stereo instructions. While a good book on the Thresher, it seems a bit over simplistic for my tastes. And I am sure even more so to those that really know anything about Submarines, which I don't. But this is why I read sub book is to learn more. While the book in interesting I am not sure I learned anything that I hadn't already known. Here more detail would be better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The book arrived in excellent condition, fast shipping. I wanted a copy of this book because my cousin Donald Day was one of the crew members who lost their life on the USS Thresher. Before there was not much information about the accident that caused this terrible submarine disaster that took so many lifes. But at least with this book it gives you a little insight into the USS Thresher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The author carefully scoured the record, limited as it is, and presented a strong case for why the Thresher went down. It's not Grisham or Baldacci, but for those interested in naval history, it's worth the time.
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on February 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
April 10, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the US nuclear submarine USS Thresher. This incident is the worst submarine accident in history with 129 men going down with the ship. My family and I have an undocumented connection with this tragedy and I was very interested in learning more of the story. I found this book to be a great place to start my research. The book gives the background on the ship and its crew. It tells of the nature of submarine testing and the events that lead to the loss of the ship. The book has a nice collection of photos to supplement the book and has historical documents in the appendixes. The book also lists the entire crew and visiting Navy and civilian observers that were on board the ship. Although the book tells a sorrowful story, I found that it was written with great respect for the lives involved and had a positive outlook for the future of all submarines and their crew.
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on October 29, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The boat went down when I was a kid and I remember the event vividly. Of course, I never knew what had happened. Polmar's account makes for very absorbing and, ultimately, sobering reading. I am astounded that there was a hint of sabotage in the case that seems to have never been pursued. At the height (it seemed) of the Cold War. This is an excellent, gripping history, and if you don't know the Thresher's story, you will get it in a highly professional manner here.
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