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Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Time to Die: The Untold Story of the Kursk Tragedy by Robert Moore

Fascinating and depressing look into the "new" Russia


The Kursk was the largest, most-powerful nuclear submarine in the Russian fleet. It was one of only a very few of their premier ships - designed before the Soviet collapse and completed by the Russian government. It was larger than anything in the American fleet.

The Kursk
In August of 2000 there was an accident caused by a malfunction in a poorly maintained dummy torpedo during a war games exercise near the Arctic circle. The explosion of the dummy caused the explosion of every non-nuclear piece of ordinance on the sub and it immediately sink to the floor of the ocean 370 feet down. Most of the sailors died right away but about 20 survived in the aft compartments for several days.

The book details the poor quality of Russia's underwater rescue teams (their annual budget for 1999 was $14,000 - their leaders joked about using it to buy a car so they could drive to an underwater rescue site) and their unwillingness to accept Western offers to help until it was too late for their sailors. It also details the trevails of some of the victims' families and the Russian government's clumsy responses to the crisis and their own newly-freed press.

A Time to Die's title comes from a poem written by one of the men from the aft compartment. He gave it to his wife just before he left to participate in the war games.

When there is A Time to Die
Although I try not to think about this,
I would like time to say:
My darling I Love You.

My review:

A Time to Die: The Untold Story of the Kursk Tragedy is a fascinating, yet depressing book. I learned a lot about submarines and underwater rescue but it involved the loss of over 120 men. The look into the new Russia and Vladimir Putin's first crisis as President is worth reading the book in and of itself.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: A Time to Die.

Reviewed in February of 2005.

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