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The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service Since 1945 Paperback – 2 Jun 2016
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A tour de force, a valuable resource for naval historians and future generations to wonder at. And I can't help hoping that our current leaders will make themselves aware of some vitally significant issues that it raises. (Admiral Lord West Spectator)
The lay reader cannot fail to be absorbed by its dramatic tales of cat-and-mouse skirmishes with Soviet hunter-killer submarines, embarrassing spy scandals and lucid accounts of the Falklands War - all enlivened with first-hand testimony from the submariners themselves. (Richard Blackmore Independent)
About the Author
James Jinks completed his PhD under Peter Hennessy at Queen Mary. His first book was 50 Years of the Polaris Sales Agreement, commissioned by Her Majesty's Government to mark 50 years of Polaris. He is now at work on A Very British Bomb, a history of the British nuclear deterrent.
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This is the story of the long game. It's immensely more secretive and the stakes are immeasurably higher. In a world of conspiracy theorists and wild speculation about secrecy, this is a book that lays out in great detail things which cannot end up as a YouTube post by the end of the day.
It is a lengthy book to do justice to the enormous contribution the Submarine Service makes to ensuring that the UK remains at the strategic forefront of world affairs. How do we 'punch above our weight' in the world? This is one area where Britain remains in the top division of the Premier League.
The book is well-paced, although occasionally it is noticeable when one author writes one chapter and the other another. That isn't too say that one is a worse writer than the other, just different styles.
The section on the Falkland's War, perhaps because of its 'Hot War' nature, was particularly interesting, and managing to convey the human element of the submarine campaign as well as the operational. The Cold War missions were also engaging despite the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act. For this reason operational history after the Cold War felt a bit brief, but the in depth look into the successor of Trident made up for it. The authors certain made the most of the cooperation from the Royal Navy and their seemingly all access pass to all parts of submarine service.
It's difficult to find fault with this book, although a few more maps would have helped when describing some of the operations. That aside, whether you are interested in the politics of the nuclear deterrent, the postwar history of the Submarine Service or the development of such technologically advanced pieces of equipment, then this book should answer all (or at least most) of your questions.
I was thrilled by the accounts of the cold war encounters between Soviet subs and Royal Navy submarines where our submarines were generally much quieter and better operated than the Soviet ones. Consequently Royal Navy nuclear submarines were shadowing and simulating attacks on Russian subs the whole time while their occupants were blissfully unaware - apart from the odd collision.
The accounts of the politics and process of procuring/building nuclear submarines were less thrilling but still useful information as the UK are once again debating whether to renew our submarine nuclear deterrent.
This is without doubt my favourite book about the RN and I'm reading Frederick Marryat at the same time.