Top critical review
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Read with caution - if at all
on 4 January 2012
I'm sorry to express disappointment with this book. Very early on the author admits that the reader will not find out why the sub sank, and it doesn't really get much better from thereon. The accident happened in 1951 - but is examined with a 21st century mindset of accountability and blame.
The book revolves around five main elements: the sub's history up to the accident, the search for the sub when it failed to make a scheduled radio report, the finding of the sub, and finally the enquiry into why it sank. There is objective, if slightly nontechnical coverage of these elements - you don't need to be a sub expert to understand and appreciate the tragic story. However the fifth element is an attempt at a cover up and conspiracy theory by the author and it is this element that makes me suggest you treat this book with caution.
The reasons for the sub sinking have never been completely verified because the sub was not salvaged and brought to the surface for both financial and technical reasons. The official Admiralty enquiry found enough evidence to show it was a faulty snort tube, and closed the matter. That the enquiry was not conclusive beyond all doubt is why the author then tries to fill what he perceives as a void with alternative explanations for the sinking, along the lines of the boat being dangerously unsafe, and the crew unfit to man it.
The author suggests a cover up, that Affray was a disaster waiting to happen. The evidence for this is thin indeed, much of it hearsay and supposition, and much of this evidence had already been discredited in the Admiralty enquiry. The final chapter is a series of rhetorical and/or unanswerable questions - questions loaded so that the lack of an official answer implies incompetence and conspiracy from the Admiralty. This is poor stuff and proves little or nothing.
Overall - we are no closer to the truth than we were before this book was written, so why buy it?