A Time to Die: the Untold Story of the Kurst Tragedy ----- by Robert Moore. This book has all the elements of a first class novel: it has good guys and bad guys; it has deception and stupidity; it is riveting and compelling; the story line is enough to make you anxious and at the same time angry with institutionalized red tape and ass=covering protocol. But this book is not a novel: all the outrageous events in the book are for real. The time is in the early 1990’s. Putin has just assumed the Russian throne. Only a few years earlier Gorbachev signed the USSR into oblivion. The economy of the former USSR has imploded. The former Soviet Socialist Republics have gone their separate ways. The economy is a shambles. Miners in the Far East are striking because they haven’t been paid in a year. On the Barent’s Sea, some members of the crews, not well paid at the best of times, have initiated action tol receive their back pay. The Russian nuclear fleets, once the pride of the USSR and capable of delivering nuclear anihilation to its enemies in the far reaches of the globe, have been allowed to rust into useless hulks, tied of at the docks of maqjor Soviet naval bases, destined for the scrapper's torch. The fleets are but a shadow of their former capabilities. But in spite of all this political neglect morale is still high and seamen, submariners in particular, carry out their duties with pride and dedication. During fleet manoeuvres, the Russian submarine the Kursk is met with tragedy as the propellant in one of her poorly maintained torpedoes explodes. After a subsequent and much larger explosion, 27 crewmen find themselves alive but trapped in one of the sub’s rear compartments. The rest of the book is of bungled attempts to rescue the rrapped drew using defective and abysmally maintaiuned Russian equipment; blaming the course of events on US skullduggery; and denial. Finally, after over a week, the Russians accept proffered western aid but by this time it is too late for the entombed Russian sailors. In so many ways, this book stands as an indictment of what has gone wrong in this Russia and in the USSR before it. This book is almost as spellbinding as anything written by Cussler and it is certainly a page-turning book that you will find difficult to put down.
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