History of submarines: books and web sites

Early history

  • Harris, Brayton: Navy Times Book of Submarines. Best single book I found from earliest attempts to recent submarines with political context.
  • Compton-Hall, Richard: Submarine Pioneers. Information about dozens of pioneers and their fates.
  • Friedman, Norman: U.S. Submarines Through 1945. Thorough on design and details from first U.S. submarines through WW II fleet subs.
  • Padfield, Peter: War Beneath the Sea: Opening chapter sub development between WW I and WW II, then World War II submarine campaigns of Britain, Germany, and the U.S. from a British view.

Two pioneers:

  • Lockwood, Charles: Down to the Sea in Subs. Eventful life from duty on a Holland sub to Commander Submariness Pacific in WW II.
  • Maas, Peter: The Terrible Hours. Biography of remarkable "Swede" Momsen's life in submarines for decades to design for Albacore.

World War II

  • Blair, Clay, Jr.: Silent Victory: The U. S. Submarine War Against Japan, 2 vols. Thorough, readable history of the American campaign, frank about intelligence and problems.
  • Blair, Clay, Jr.: Hitler's U-Boat War. Thorough history of WW II Hitler's U-Boats and Battle of the Atlantic.
  • Boyne, Walter: Clash of Titans. Good summary of naval operations of WW II of all nations with human interest by British author.
  • Holmes, W. J.: Underseas Victory. Excellent history and descriptions of American submarine campaign. Though Holmes was a codebreaker, he couldn’t write about it.
  • Meigs, Montgomery: Slide Rules and Submarines. American scientists help both anti-sub in Atlantic and our subs in Pacific.
  • Morrison, Samuel: Two Ocean War, The. Sweeping story in 1 vol. of U.S. naval operations, including Battle of the Atlantic and our submarines.
  • Wiggins, Melanie: Torpedoes in the Gulf. U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico and their effects on shipping and morale.

German view
Doenitz, Karl: Ten Years and Twenty Days. Memoir that gives interesting insights to Doenitz and to his U-boat war.

Cold War

  • Sontag, Sherry et al: Blind Man’s Bluff: Submarine Espionage. Cold War actions that began soon after World War II, solving the Scorpion sinking, and daring exploits of fast attack nuclear submarines, crews, and spooks.
  • Craven, John Piña: The Silent War: The Cold War Battle Beneath the Sea.Craven starred in developing Polaris, solving nuclear sub problems, finding the sunken Scorpion, and other feats.
  • Weir, Gary E & Boyne, Walter: Rising Tide: Untold Story of the Russian Submarines that Fought the Cold War. Tells the Russian side of the conflicts in Blind Man's Bluff.


  • Ballard, Robert D.: Eternal Darkness is a readable summary from earliest deep sea exploration to the search for Titanic. Much information and some illustrations.
  • Ballard, Robert D.: Adventures in Ocean Exploration, National Geographic. Less text than above and more illustrations.
  • Vyborny, Lee & Davis, Don: Dark Waters describes training of nuclear sailors and his experience in the first crew of deep diving nuclear NR-1.

Internet Links:
Submarine Pioneers:
Explore other parts of this site http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/cno/n87/n77.html
Naval Submarine League: http://www.navalsubleague.com/
U. S. Naval Institute: http://www.usni.org/
Recovery of the Confederate submarine Hunley: http://www.hunley.org
Exploration: http://www.seasky.org/oceanxp/sea5a3.html
Map of tectonic plates: http://geology.er.usgs.gov/eastern/plates.html

Internet site names (URLs) change; if any of these do not work, and to find additional sites, use search engines.

Web sites for American World War II submarines.

Prepared by John F. Yeaman for SAGE & QUEST Seminars