Summary and book reviews of The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas

The Terrible Hours

The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History

By Peter Maas

The Terrible Hours
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  • Hardcover: Oct 1999,
    240 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2000,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

On the eve of World War II, America's newest submarine plunged helplessly to the North Atlantic bottom during a test dive. Miraculously, thirty-three crew members still survived. While their wives and girlfriends waited in nearly unbearable tension on shore, their ultimate fate would depend on one man.

In this thrilling true narrative of terror, heroism and courage in the depths of a malevolent ocean, prizewinning author Peter Maas brings us in vivid detail a blow-by-blow account of the disaster and its uncertain outcome. The sub was the Squalus. The man was a U.S. Navy officer, Charles "Swede" Momsen, an extraordinary combination of visionary, scientist and man of action. Until his advent, it was accepted that if a submarine went down, her crew was doomed. But Momsen, in the face of an indifferent, often sneering naval bureaucracy, battling red tape and disbelieving naysayers every step of the way, risked his own life again and again against the unknown in his efforts to invent and pioneer every escape and rescue device, every deep-sea diving technique, to save an entombed crew. With the crippled, partially flooded Squalus lost on the North Atlantic floor, Momsen faced his personal moment of truth: Could he actually pluck those men from a watery grave? Had all his work been in vain?

The legacy of his death-defying probes into our inner space remains with us today, and in this depiction of the perseverance and triumph of the human spirit, Swede Momsen is given his rightful place in the pantheon of true American heroes.

Excerpt
The Terrible Hours

It was a Tuesday, May 23, 1939.

In New York City, Bloomingdale's department store was promoting a new electronic wonder for American homes called television.

With great fanfare, United Airlines began advertising a nonstop flight from New York to Chicago that would take only four hours and thirty-five minutes.

In baseball, a young center fielder for the New York Yankees named Joe DiMaggio was headed for his first major league batting title.

The film adaptation of the novel Wuthering Heights, starring the English actor Laurence Olivier in his first hit movie, was in its sixth smash week.

Another novel destined to become an American classic, Nathanael West's portrait of Hollywood, The Day of the Locust, was dismissed in the New York Times as "cheap" and "vulgar."

In Canada, the visiting British monarchs, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, met the Dionne quintuplets for the first time.

In London, Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy advised an ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
New York Times Book Review

Mr. Maas...proves once again there is little he cannot achieve with the written word.

Boston Globe

Peter Maas offers insights only the best reporters can unearth.

Boston Globe

Peter Maas offers insights only the best reporters can unearth.

Los Angeles Times Book Review

Each time I pick up Maas, I feel that I have been given a backstage pass to an American moment.

New York Times Book Review

Mr. Maas...proves once again there is little he cannot achieve with the written word.

Author Blurb Tom Brokaw
Peter Maas has given us a suspenseful tale of terror, courage, heroism and American military genius. I couldn't put it down.

Author Blurb Tom Brokaw
Peter Maas has given us a suspenseful tale of terror, courage, heroism and American military genius. I couldn't put it down.

Reader Reviews
Don Van Nostrand

Gripping Tale. Well written. This book was hard to put down. Other reviewer wrote that the book jumped around too much. ?????? Hmmmm... guess I have A.D.D. because I thought all the flashbacks explained what was going on and why as the plot ...   Read More

nick

This book was horrible, one chapter you would be reading about the characters in the submarine, the next minute u are in a flashback that lasted an entire chapter. I felt this book jumped around too much and makes the reader fustrated. Peter Maas ...   Read More

Chris Bowsher

I love This Book!

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