Attention on Deck!
“In popular culture, no machine of war comes to matching the mystery and allure of the submarine. For thousands of years men have breached the barrier between surf and shore with craft that plowed through the waves, but never below them. As ships progressed from rafts and canoes to triremes and galleons, to steamboats and dreadnoughts, all nautical invention and history were still literally scratching the surface. The submarine is the sole and true master of the sea”
– from the Introduction by Neal Stevens
Cast off All Bow Lines!
Just to let everyone know, and before going any further with this review, I must acknowledge something first. When I was originally asked by both the SimHQ Senior Editor and Neal Stevens of Subsim Review if I would review this book I was somewhat apprehensive since this was a new venture for me. I have never accomplished a book review ever. Well, other than in high school many, many years ago. But since I am always up for a challenge I decided to take this project on. I am not the least bit remorseful. As a matter of fact, when starting to read this fine collection of naval stories, I learned a lot from the writings from all of the authors, along with a little more understanding of what “true” submariners have and had to endure within these finely crafted undersea machines.
First off, Subsim is one of the very best naval simulation sites on the Internet. Like SimHQ, it is operated and supported by a huge following of naval sim enthusiasts, along with readers from all walks of life. Unlike SimHQ, Neal and his staff are primarily focused on one category of warfare, and that is submarine warfare. They also delved into other facets of naval combat, both in the real world and in simulation games, to include any “modifications” of a particular sub game. Along those same lines, if a modification is released for any submarine game published, you can bet that this staff has already play tested it, reviewed it, and will have an answer for any questions that you may have on the particular mod. And if by a slim chance they cannot, they absolutely know where to find the answer. Top notch in my book!
Let’s Put to Sea Crew!
There are many areas of this collection of short stories I really enjoyed. In only a couple of areas where it fell a little short of my expectations. However in saying that, I must state in defense of the Almanac the positives by far outweigh the negatives by leaps and bounds concerning the content of this fine piece of literature. And as embarrassing as it is to admit, I have not read a book cover-to-cover in over ten years — until this one. This paperback was pure enjoyment the whole way through. When I ventured from one story to the next, it seemed to some extent appeared that the next story was always a little bit superior to the previous one just completed.
When you open the 2008 Submarine Almanac, you will discover that the stories range from fun-loving fiction to serious naval experiences to an actual diary which was kept by a World War I German U-boat commander. Several real-life veterans, including actual sub commanders of the submarine services in the U.S. Navy from the Cold War era and beyond make appearances. They deliver their experiences from their undersea careers. And the stories themselves seem to actually either transport you onto the deck of a sub or into the situation that is described by the author. It makes you feel you are witnessing each story as it happens and drives you to read further and further on for the next smile or chuckle that many of the stories provide the reader.
Dive, Dive, Dive!
In the coming paragraphs I will attempt to briefly explore the stories that are enclosed in this 2008 edition and provide an opinion or summary on each story included. But without having to state that each story was excellent or outstanding in whatever capacity — which would be somewhat monotonous to read over and over — I will say now for the record that each story is a very worthwhile adventure and you will not be disappointed. I must also advise readers that it is not stated anywhere in the publication as to whether a particular story is fiction or non-fiction, so it’s possible I may have some assumptions wrong regarding historic accuracy.