Under Pressure

Under Pressure : Living Life and Avoiding Death on a Nuclear Submarine

3.81 (49 ratings by Goodreads)
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What's it like to spend three months without sunlight, sharing what little space you have with over a hundred fellow crewmen and more firepower than all the bombs dropped in World War II combined? This memoir reveals the funny, challenging, one-of-a-kind experience that is life on a nuclear submarine, for readers of Skyfaring, Endurance and Sea Stories. Imagine a world without natural light, where you can barely stand up straight for fear of knocking your head, where you have no idea of where in the world you are or what time of day it is, where you sleep in a coffin-sized bunk and sometimes eat a three-course dinner for breakfast. Now imagine sharing that world with 140 other sweaty bodies, crammed into a 430-foot-by-33-foot steel tube, 300 feet underwater, for up to ninety days at a time, with no possibility of escape. And to top it off, a sizable chunk of your living space is taken up by the most formidably destructive nuclear weapons history has ever known. This is the world of the submariner. This is life under pressure. As a restless and adventurous eighteen-year-old, Richard Humphreys joined the submarine service in 1985 and went on to serve aboard the nuclear deterrent for five years at the end of the Cold War. Nothing could have prepared him for life beneath the waves. Aside from the claustrophobia and disorientation, there were the prolonged periods of boredom, the constant dread of discovery by the Soviets, and the smorgasbord of rank odors that only a group of poorly washed and flatulent submariners could unleash. But even in this high-pressure environment, the consolations were unique: Where else could you sit peacefully for hours listening to whale song? Based on firsthand experience, Under Pressure is the candid, visceral and incredibly entertaining account of what it's like to live, work, sleep and eat--and stay sane--in one of the most extreme man-made environments on the planet.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 28mm | 515g
  • English
  • Original ed.
  • 1335996249
  • 9781335996244

Review quote

"A vivid, honest and very funny account of life as submariner at the height of the Cold War." --James Jinks, author of The Silent Deep "An utterly fascinating and wonderfully detailed insight into the hidden - and frequently disorientating and claustrophobic - world of the modern submariner, this richly compelling and hugely entertaining memoir brilliantly conveys the tension, huge responsibility, culture and, of course, humour, of being a crewman on the nuclear deterrent." --James Holland, author of Normandy `44: D-Day and the Battle for France "A visceral trip under water."
-The Spectator (UK) "[Humphreys'] account is fascinating and eye-opening. It reveals submariners such as him as unsung warriors, front-line fighters in a bizarre war of silent menace that anyone outside the tight-knit community can barely comprehend."
-The Daily Mail (UK) "In geopolitical terms Humphreys really picked his moment... He captures the details of this eerie, constrained existence so well."
-The Times (UK) "A vivid no holds barred account of life on a Polaris nuclear sub during the Cold War."
-Cold War Conversations (UK)
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Rating details

49 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 37% (18)
4 27% (13)
3 27% (13)
2 2% (1)
1 8% (4)
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