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Building his case out of original research from U.S., British, and German archives, and from interviews with submarine veterans, Anthony Newpower presents a comprehensive study of the politics and technology behind the high failure rate of U.S. torpedoes early in WWII. His investigation focuses on the defects in the Mark XIV, which tended to run deeper than the set depth, detonate prematurely, and/or fail to explode when hitting a target.
The author attributes the nearly two-year delay to correct these defects to senior officials who blamed the crews for poor marksmanship and training rather than acknowledge that a grossly defective weapon had been sent into the fleet. In the end, the submarine force overcame bureaucratic inertia and fixed the problems on its own. Newpower's examination of the decision-making process and his chilling accounts of experiences with faulty torpedoes broaden the book's appeal.