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The Death of the U.S.S. Thresher: The Story Behind History's Deadliest Submarine Disaster Hardcover – October 1, 2001


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From the Back Cover

On the morning of April 10, 1963, the world's most advanced submarine was on a test dive off the New England coast when she sent a message to a support ship a thousand feet above her on the surface: experiencing minor problem . . . have positive angle . . . attempting to blow . . Then came the sounds of air under pressure and a garbled message: . . test depth . . Last came the eerie sounds that experienced navy men knew from World War II: the sounds of a submarine breaking up and compartments collapsing.When she first went to sea in April of 1961, the U.S. nuclear submarine Thresher was the most advanced submarine at sea, built specifically to hunt and kill Soviet submarines. In The Death of the USS Thresher, renowned naval and intelligence consultant Norman Polmar recounts the dramatic circumstances surrounding her implosion, which killed all 129 men on board, in history's first loss of a nuclear submarine.This revised edition of Polmar's 1964 classic is based on interviews with the Thresher's first command officer, other submarine officers, and the designers of the submarine. Polmar provides recently declassified information about the submarine, and relates the loss to subsequent U.S. and Soviet nuclear submarine sinkings, as well as to the escape and rescue systems developed by the Navy in the aftermath of the disaster. The Death of the USS Thresher is a must-read for the legions of fans who enjoyed the late Peter Maas's New York Times best-seller The Terrible Hours. (5 3/4 x 8 1/2, 208 pages, b&w photos)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585743488
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585743483
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Excellent story of an attack submarine and its tragic end.
Dr. Ronald H. Freeman
Can we trust the information in the rest of the book especially since there are no footnotes much less references?
Rodin
I highly recommend this book to those interested in learning what there is to know about the Thresher loss.
Gene

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 4, 2003
I served on a submarine in the Thresher class (renamed Permit class after the Thresher was lost). We had mandatory annual training on the causes of the Thresher accident and what we learned from it. I was surprised to find that Polmar was aware of a very large number of accurate facts about this accident, including much of what I had thought was classified. There are, as another reviewer notes, some minor errors, but they are unimportant to the overall story. I found this book to be very well-written and well-researched. Reading it took me back to my "Thresher training" and reminded me of all the drills and actual problems on my own boat. I recommend this book highly.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gene on September 10, 2003
Verified Purchase
While in the US Navy, I served aboard aircraft carriers so I have no specific knowledge of submarines. What I do know comes from numerous conversations with my father in law who served aboard submarines in the 50's, 60's and 70's. It's interesting to see the antithetical reviews of the two submariners.
I read the book to find out what exactly is known (and not known) about the Thresher tragedy. I believe Polmar presents the facts and suppositions regarding the Thresher accident extremely well. Depending on which submariner is to be believed, I've either been tragically misinformed or I've learned something.
I highly recommend this book to those interested in learning what there is to know about the Thresher loss.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William H.A. Newport on May 12, 2003
This rehashing by Norman Polmar of his 1964 publication has improved little with the passage of time and revision. The book offers little in the way of new insights- little was known about what transpired that tragic morning then, and little is known now. Neither the quality of the 1964 book nor any new information provide a compelling reason for a new edition.
Most of the book has a superficial feel to it and deteriorates the further Polmar strays from the world he knows. He obviously never served on submarines and would have benefitted from having his book read prior to publication by someone who has. Speculation is obviouly necessary when examing what occurred on the Thresher that morning, but reading his explanations of submarine systems, I find it hard to believe Polmar has any engineering background at all.

When talking about life and work aboard submarines, Polmar is at his weakest. His vignettes ring false and his understanding of the motivations, inner thoughts and daily life of submarine sailors is speculative and uninformed. Many left me rolling my eyes and physically uncomfortable they were so bad (nearly as much as the movie Crimson Tide.)
The loss of the Thresher was a major event by any measure (one felt well into the 1980s when I served as a Reactor Operator on an SSN.) It had a major impact on submarine construction, training and operations (similar to the impact Three Mile Island had on the way the commercial nuclear industry trained and operated.) Far from dying in vain, Thresher's crew made future submarines safer. The event also touched the national psyche so deeply at the time that Phil Ochs wrote a song about it ("The Thresher" on "All the News That's Fit to Sing"-1964.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on April 4, 2003
Unlike the previous reviewer, I found this book a good read for those interested in submarine life. There were some typos in the book, but the reader could figure out what Polmar is trying to say. This book was originally written in the sixties, and was brought up to date with other submarine accidents. What is covered is one of the most tragic U.S. Navy accidents. Polmar covers the short life of this nuclear submarine, and why she may have went down.
By now, most people have heard about the Russian submarine Kursk and her fate. The U.S. Navy suffered a similar tragedy in 1963 with the loss of 129 men and the U.S.S. Thresher. What is interesting is the way Admiral Rickover (Jimmy Carter's mentor) is pictured in this book. It seems Rickover tried to cover up for any failure of the nuclear powerplant in the Thresher. Polmar does an alright job in making the technical data interesting.
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By John on January 12, 2013
Verified Purchase
The Death of the U.S.S. Thresher is a must read for history buffs. It is very revealing. My late father-in-law was part of the instrumentation team on the Thresher during the sea trials and he always felt it was a disaster waiting to happen. The book obviously substantiates this.
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