Tom Clancy doesn't write every book with his name on, but this one he surely did. His earlier novels made into films propelled him to fame, and none more so that The Hunt for Red October". I was all based on his interest in such technical things in the military, and this ist he factual version, complete with a low down on all submarines in the worlds major powers, with the focus on the deadliest US boats.
Technical terms are explained, and the feel of living on such a vessel is conveyed, from the torpedo room to the bunks (no-one except the captain gets his own) and even the kitchen (no larger than yours probably) is defined in detail.
All the systems are explained, from that which fires the weapons, to the fire-fighting equipment. Strangely, the principle reason for a nuclear submarines existence is only scantily described, perhaps because that aspect lacks the glory of the morally superior coventional weapons role. I found it tragically amusing that the plain fact that these beasts are probably the most dangerous pieces of hardware ever concieved by mankind is left unsaid. Teh fact that vessels such as the USS Thresher sank without recovery is mentioned, but the implications of a reactor melt-down in the ocean (which would make Tchernobyl look like a picnic in the park) is completely unexplored. Of course now, all these years later, we can all thank God that even with the Kursk disaster that didn't happen, but a third of the world's seas could then be contaminated.
What is explored is really every other aspect of building, maintaining, manning and commanding subs. The training that recruits receive especially at Captain level is explained, and here comes the surprise. Despite Tom Clancey's patriotism, he confesses that no one does it better than...the British! The Perisher course for training RN submarine captains is thouroghly discussed, and credit is given to the Royal Navy creating the worlds best leaders in submarine warfare, and rightly so when they carry such enormaous responsibility, not only for their government, but ultimately the lives of everyone! This brings up the obvious concern that other navies have a below par leadership in their subs. I think that Clancey could have gone deeper into that, especially from the Soviet/Russian side of things.
As a conclusion, various scenarios are explored in which nuclear submarines would play a role, from lying low in deep water harbours to attacking airfields in Iran (with Land Attack Cruise Missiles as they did in the Gulf war). Perhaps such scenarios are now loking more likely. What is certain, however, ist he role played by British subs in the South Atlantic against the Argentinians during the Falklands war. The sinking of the General Belrano" and other important missions there are carefully unpacked. Is there a better read for such awesome vessels, which draws the reader in so he ends up feeling in need of shore leave?