Most helpful critical review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Good Story but not a Great Book
on October 16, 2000
The rescue of the crew of the Squalus by Swede Momsen and a heroic team of Navy divers in 1939 is without a doubt a compelling and suspenseful subject matter. Maas obviously has a great deal of respect for Momsen, pointing out petty jealousies and a sense of apathy on the part of the Navy that often deprived Momsen of the credit he was due. In The Terrible Hours, Maas oftentimes tries to add a little drama and suspense, for example ending chapters with an ominous warning or hint of upcoming trouble that I thought was a little over the top.
Overall, I thought the book was entertaining but could have been better. Maas includes no maps, floorplans of the sub or even a simple diagram to give the average non-Naval officer reader (like me) a sense of the confines of the submarine. He has no notes, so you wonder at the source of many of his facts such as the actions and conversations of the Squalus crewman and their spouses ashore when news of the sinking spread. Aside from the impressive cover, there is nary a photograph. He also spends a great deal of time describing the salvage of the sub itself, after any survivors were removed, which turned out to be somewhat anti-climatic since the reader's curiosity as to the cause of the sinking is never really satisfied. Overall I give it 3 stars, 3 1/2 if Amazon let me, but I was a lot more impressed with the writing, Notes, photographs and charts of the Philbrick book on the Whaleship Essex- it included all of the material that could've made Maas' book better, even though it chronicled an event dating more than 100 years earlier.