New Book: Sea Devils – Pioneer Submariners

Congratulations to MA Maritime History graduate John Swinfield, who has recently had his latest book published.

Sea Devils is a compelling account of pioneer submariners and their astonishing underwater contraptions. Some made perilous voyages, others sank like stones. Craft were propelled by muscle-power or had steam engines with chimneys. Some had wheels to trundle along the seabed, others were used as underwater aircraft carriers.

John Swinfield traces the history of early submarines and the personalities who built and sailed them. From a plethora of madcap inventors emerged a bizarre machine that navies of the world will reluctantly acquired but viewed with distaste. It matured into a weapon that would usurp the mighty battleship, which had for centuries enjoyed an unchallenged command of the oceans. In its long and perilous history and the submarine became subject to fierce business, military and political shenanigans. It won eventual acceptance amidst the chaos and carnage of the First World War, in which pathfinder submariners achieved an extraordinarily high tall of five Victoria Crosses, Britain’s highest military decoration.

Sea Devils brims with daring characters and their unflinching determination to make hazardous underwater voyages: an immensely readable, entertaining and authoritative chronicle of low cunning, high politics, wondrous heroism and appalling tragedy. (Quoted from book cover)

John is a writer, historian, documentary film maker and former Fleet Street and TV journalist. He completed his MA Maritime History with the GMI several years ago and won the Marine Society prize for outstanding dissertation in maritime history. He built on the work he completed for that dissertation and subsequently published, Airship: Design, Development and Disaster published by Conway Maritime and the United States Naval Institute Press.

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