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The Terrible Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History Hardcover – 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From AudioFile

Maas has written a testimonial to "Swede" Momsen, inventor and pioneer in deep-water diving, focusing on the disaster of the submarine SQUALAS. On a choppy day in the late 1920s, a vessel known as the best of subs sailed out of Portsmouth Harbor for a trial run. Meticulously conceived and supplied, she was showing off her perfection. The accident occurring shortly after submersion shocked the Navy and summoned Momsen's creative genius to the rescue. What might have become a mere catalogue of naval maneuvers and mishaps becomes, with Conway's deft and sensitive delivery, a riveting saga of man and boat. Momsen, the SQUALAS and her crew will not soon be forgotten. S.B.S. © AudioFile 2000, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The Washington Post

"thrilling...breathlessly written" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (1999)
  • ISBN-10: 0060194804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060194802
  • ASIN: B000HWYUD4
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,248,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is a MUST read for anyone interested in U.S. Navy history. Maas's account of the loss of the USS Squalus & subsequent rescue efforts is exceptionally well done. The reader truly feels what it must have been like for the 33 crewmen trapped in their crippled submarine at the bottom of the North Atlantic as they prayed for rescue. The book also provides a biography of U.S. Navy officer "Swede" Momsen. Often at the risk of his own life, & sometimes with minimal support from the Navy, Momsen developed the deep-sea diving devices that made it possible to attempt the rescue.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Maas gives us a tale that brings the heretofore unknown Swede Momsen to the forefront of the American heroic tradition. In describing how Momsen performs the first deep sea rescue of a marooned submarine crew, Maas tells a first-class tale. He describes how Momsen became one of the Navy's best officers, often not by blindly saying "yes," but more often by challenging conventional wisdom and practicing relentless innovation -- even when it was not welcome or understood. He risked his life many times. The rescue of the crew of Squalus off the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire, is enough of a story to merit a place for Momsen. But Maas proceeds to describe Momsen's entire naval career, which includes a hand in bringing about nuclear submarines and even a stint at solving the worst problem in the entire fleet -- namely, bringing order to the Navy's worldwide mail. Momsen has been dead for more than 30 years, but his life and work are a story about leadership, innovation, practical organization politics, and being personally effective. It's a great book, a real page-turner. The only drawback is an occasional spell of technical briefing which produced nothing more in me than a desire to skip a few pages and return to the spellbinding story of this man's life's work.
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Format: Hardcover
Though ostensibly about the first successful deep water submarine rescue in American History, "The Terrible Hours" is really the heoric story of Swede Momson, the dedicated U.S. Naval officer who overcame reams of red tape and mountains of bureaucratic ineptitude to develop the equipment that allowed the successful operation to take place. His story is an inspiring one for any American. Author Peter Maas first reported on Momsen's story nearly thrity-five years ago, and this project was a labor of love for him. His account of the sailors aboard the trapped submarine is quite harrowing. And the rescue is detailed with the right amount of white knuckle suspense. Overall, this well-written book is an excellent and informative piece of reporting.
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Format: Hardcover
Peter Maas has a gift. His words make men and women whom we'll never know personally come alive. In his telling of the tale of the Squalus, Maas also provides a shocking glimpse into the rigidity of the pre-World War II Navy, presents a picture of domestic life that we no longer enjoy (and probably are worse off for it) and the willingness of men to willingly endure danger. It is also the story of one very brave, very determined man who fought a stolid bureaucracy in order to save the lives of his comrades. Maas' reporting - and that's what it really is - is solid. He never gets into phony histrionics, but his descriptions of the reality are frightening - you can imagine the terror of being trapped in a submarine, 240 feet below the surface, not knowing if you will be dead or alive in a matter of hours. Maas also captures the unassuming and unfailing courage of the rescuers who fight inadequate equipment, foul weather and fate itself. The Terrible Hours is adventure of the most terrifying kind because it recounts a reality most of us could never endure.
Jerry
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Format: Hardcover
Many times the early works of an author are offered again after the writer has attained 'best seller' status. The truth can not be changed, and so it stands to reason that the story told in THE RESCUER sounds familiar in THE TERRIBLE HOURS. I have read them both and see the similarities and the differences. It is good to tell the story again in a time when the world yearns for heroes, and to offer the truth in a world where honesty often takes a back seat. I have heard this story all of my life, as VADM Momsen is my grandfather. Peter Maas spent nearly a decade interviewing him and sharing his life before he died. This is not a small story. Peter told me just last night that in spite of all his forays up the best seller list that "this is the one that counts." He told me, "I have been as dedicated to your grandfather's story as he was to his work. The man was a true hero." My grandfather longed to tell the story himself - and I own his original attempt to do that. But he was an inventor, and Peter Maas is the writer - and Peter has taken the tale out of the scientific information and turned it into a wonderful story of an exceptional man. There may be tellings of the story by those who were on the Falcon from the start to the finish of the rescue, but they surely can not rival the story told by the man who developed the rescue devices in the face of skepticim and opposition, risked his own life to test them, and came at last to that certain hour when the lives of 33 men rested on the sum total of everything he had ever done or learned or dreamed. His whole life was dedicated to underwater rescue and the Navy's submarine service. It is time for the scope of his accomplishments to be told - or told again to a more listening world - and Peter Maas has done an exceptional job at the telling.
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