The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for The Terrible Hours:

As if you needed more reasons not to go on a submarine.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the rescue of the crewmen on the submarine Squalus in 1939.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

Until about the mid-1930s, if your submarine had a problem, you were going to die. After that, you were still probably going to die, it just wasn’t for certain.

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

The hero of the story, Swede Momsen, developed a successful apparatus to save submarine crew-members. He tested it and ensured it worked. His submission was ignored until he was transferred to the department of the Navy which handled ideas like that and made it happen himself. Good job, Navy. 

My Take on The Terrible Hours:

Submarines suck. This book is part disaster, part list of reasons to never go on a submarine. You should never go in the navy anyway, but this just piles on.

Rivalry aside, this book is about two things. First, is Charles “Swede” Momsen. Momsen was a smart guy who revolutionized submarine rescue. Actually, it is probably more accurate to say he invented it. He worked his whole career figuring out ways to save his fellow mariners. He was the real deal.

Unfortunately, he got to prove it when the Squalus sank off New Hampshire. Momsen was called in and proceeded to put on a clinic on how to rescue submariners. This book details all the dangers by the stranded crew but also the rescuers. Diving was a very dangerous job and even the best could end up dead because of a bad day.


A really great read that is more suspenseful then you would imagine. Buy it here!

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The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas
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