Going Deep: John Philip Holland and the Invention of the Attack Submarine

Pegasus. Jun. 2017. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781681774299. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681774848. HIST
Historian Goldstone (Drive!) adds to his series of works on 19th- and 20th-century innovators by relaying how Irish engineer John Philip Holland (1841–1914) developed the first submarine commissioned by the U.S. Navy. The central story here is the race between Holland and mechanical engineer Simon Lake (1866–1945) to perfect the first underwater vessel. Goldstone explains that Holland's concept was a vessel to make war, while Lake's idea was a submersible salvage vehicle. The lengthy and snarled competition between the two came to involve intense personal animosities, Congressional corruption, manipulation of the press and stock market, and even a trip by President Theodore Roosevelt on one of Holland's early submarines. Goldstone paints a vivid portrait of two brilliant inventors struggling to persuade the U.S. Navy to adopt their machine. It took Holland more than a decade to win the debate, but Lake never stopped slinging accusations of bribery and favoritism to influence the navy and excuse his submarine's unsuitability for undersea warfare.
VERDICT An enjoyable book for readers interested in innovations during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, along with military or American history.
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