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Submarine warfare today and tomorrow.

Submarine Warfare Today and Tomorrow.

Capt. John E. Moore,Cmdr. Richard Compton-Hall. Adler & Adler, $22.95. A disappointing book on a topic that cries out for a first-rate treatment. Moore, a retired British submarine driver and now editor of Jane's Fighting Ships, and Compton-Hall, director of an English submarine museum, have attempted to spell out what modern submarines can do and whether in a future war they will make the roughly $500 billion U.S. surface fleet the fastest-sinking investment since the 1929 stock market.

Unfortunately Submarines Todayand Tomorrow is poorly written and hopelessly disorganized, a book in search of an editor. Even those familiar with military lingo are likely to find many passages difficult to follow.

Readers who somehow penetratethe book's semantic counter-measures will discover a disjointed but persuasive argument on a proposition rarely seen in these pages: that nuclear submarines are so much better than diesels, the extra expense is justified. (Though the authors chide the U.S. for abandoning the diesel submarine altogether.) Moore and Compton-Hall also argue that the size of contemporary mega-subs like the U.S. Trident and Soviet Oscar and Typhoon does not make them notably more vulnerable than smaller subs, as noise, speed, and diving properties have more to do with avoiding detection than girth. The problem with mega-subs, they say, is that the vessels are so expensive only a few can be produced.

But after dancing around thetopic of whether surface capital ships are still worth building, Moore and Compton-Hall whiff on this key question, which will leave many readers with a "why did I bother reading this?' sentiment.
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Author:Easterbrook, Gregg
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1987
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