Subtitled The Story of Submarines and the Exploits of the Men Who Build and Sail Them, this collects historical moments in the development and use of underwater craft from earliest efforts to submerge up to the nuclear powered ship. The opening deals with David Bushnell's Turtle which unsuccessfully tried to sink British ships anchored off Staten Island in 1776, and the failure of Fulton to break down naval tradition with his invention of a practical submarine. Next come the attempts of the Confederate David and Hunley in the Civil War which were evidence that subsurface warfare was possible; Holland and his ships and Simon Lake and his are next in line with all their contributions that had little effect -- for the United States -- in World War I when the Germans had the lead. The ""era of disaster"" between wars concentrates on sinkings of the S-5 in 1920, the S-51 in 1925 and the S-4 in 1927 and is followed by Wilkin's Polar voyage in the Nautilus and the history of the Squalus which started in 1939. Episodes from World War II, the ordeal of the Cochino and the Tusk, and Rickover's unremitting efforts to bring the atomic age to his Service wind up the picture and offer a lively history of the ships, the special breed of men who believe in them, improve them -- and run them. The author, a researcher for Life magazine, keeps his story graphic and alive.