Cover image for Big Red : three months on board a Trident nuclear submarine
Big Red : three months on board a Trident nuclear submarine
Waller, Douglas C.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper Collins Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiii, 336 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


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Material Type
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VA65.N35 W35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
VA65.N35 W35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
VA65.N35 W35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
VA65.N35 W35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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"The Trident nuclear submarine is the most complex war machine the United States Navy has ever produced, a $1.8 billion marvel crammed with more modern military technology than any other vessel in the world. It is an 18,750-ton steel monster, taller in length than the Washington Monument and wider than a three-lane highway at its center. Deep beneath the ocean, it can sail silently for months, practically impossible to detect by the enemy. And the twenty-four ballistic missiles on board just one of these subs have enough strategic nuclear warheads to unleash twice the explosive energy detonated by all the conventional weapons in World War II." "Now, for the first time, veteran Time magazine correspondent Douglas C. Waller takes you on a tension-packed, three-month patrol deep in the Atlantic Ocean and inside one of these Tridents, the U.S.S. Nebraska. Granted more access to these awesome submarines than any journalist before, Waller penetrates one of the most secretive worlds in the U.S. military. This book takes you into this closed society as a witness to secret rituals and life experiences where submariners, underwater for months, hope never to unleash the destructive power they command."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Douglas Waller was born in Norfolk, Virginia. He attended Wake Forest University and graduated with a B.A. Degree in English. He went on to earn a M.A. in Urban Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Douglas C. Waller is an author, lecturer, and former correspondent for Time magazine. In almost two decades as a Washington journalist, Waller has covered the Pentagon, Congress, the State Department, the White House and the CIA. From 1994 to 2007, Waller served in TIME Magazine¿s Washington Bureau, first as a correspondent then as a senior correspondent. At TIME, Waller covered foreign affairs extensively as a diplomatic correspondent, traveling throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as in the Persian Gulf region. He has reported extensively in the past on Middle East peace negotiations and the wars in Iraq. He came to TIME in 1994 from Newsweek, where he reported on intelligence and major military conflicts from the Gulf War to Somalia to Haiti. Waller began his journalism career with reporting stints at the Greensboro Record and the Charlotte News. Before joining Newsweek in 1988, he served as a legislative assistant on the staffs of Senator William Proxmire and Representative Edward J. Markey. Waller¿s new biography of General William Wild Bill Donovan, the World War II director of the Office of Strategic Services, is the eighth book he has authored or coauthored. Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage will be published in February 2011 by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster. Waller¿s other books include the national best seller, The Commandos: The Inside Story of America's Secret Soldiers, which was published in 1994, and Air Warriors: The Inside Story of the Making of a Navy Pilot, which was published in 1998. His sixth book, BIG RED: The Three-Month Voyage Of A Trident Nuclear Submarine, was also a national best seller published by in 2001.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The U.S.S. Nebraska is a Trident nuclear submarine and one of the most destructive weapons platforms ever created by man: it carries 24 multimegaton nuclear missiles and is capable of remaining undetectably submerged beneath the ocean for months at a time. The crew is among the most highly educated and carefully selected within the military services. They have to be, because, if given the proper orders, they must be willing to bring death to hundreds of millions of people. Waller presents a unique view of the tightly organized society that functions inside the sub, under the leadership of Cdr. Dave Volonino. Beyond the stress of the constant reminder that the fate of millions are in their hands, the crew must be able to cope with each other in conditions little better than prison confinement. This fascinating book gives faces and personalities to the crew, making their work even more amazing by personalizing them. Highly recommended. --Eric Robbins

Publisher's Weekly Review

The first reporter granted an extended stay aboard a Trident nuclear sub (which has 24 multiple-tipped missiles as its strike force), veteran Time diplomatic correspondent Waller (The Commandos; etc.) brings the reader into the exclusive submariners' club as he details USS Nebraska's weapons, propulsion, communications and on-board electronic gadgetsÄas well as the lives and careers of the crew. Most of the book focuses on a patrol that began in May 1999, when the "Blue Crew" boarded the USS Nebraska and headed to sea. Everyday events ensue: a near-collision with a buoy, a seaman with an attack of appendicitis, simulated war games with other subs and planes, along with drills designed to keep the crew sharp and test its mettle. Waller closely examines the elaborate safeguards against a spurious nuclear launch, and, less gravely, delves into the sub's relentlessly miniaturized kitchen and meal preparation. Less action-oriented readers will be engrossed by the backstories of the men who pilot her and the intricacies of their interactions with each other in such close quarters. Captain Dave Volonino comes off as a formidable, fiercely and generously intelligent figure, while the 106 officers and seamen interviewed over the three months by Waller show remarkable depth of character. While the sub only "pretend[s] to go to nuclear war," Waller perfectly dramatizes the perils even a routine steer through Connecticut waters can bring and the second-by-second adjustments captain and crew must make. 16-page photo insert not seen by PW. (Mar. 10) Forecast: While many readers won't recognize Waller's name, the idea of three months on a Trident will appeal to (male) readers of all stripes. But the lack of a broadly compelling story beyond the unprecedented access will keep this meticulous chronicle from Red October-like numbers. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Time correspondent Waller spent three months aboard the USS Nebraska, which is fitted with the Trident II D-5 missile system and homeported at Kings Bay, GA. It is the most modern and survivable deterrent in the world. The author (The Commandos: The Inside Story of America's Secret Soldiers and Air Warriors: The Inside Story of the Making of a Navy Pilot) again uses the "inside story" technique effectively in describing the mission and the men aboard a nuclear submarine. This is a daily account of how a crew of 160 men charged with 24 strategic missiles cooperates and performs its mission. It is also a human story with numerous anecdotes about the submariners, who train for a war they hope will never come. Aboard the Nebraska, the crew takes a "grim pride in the fact[that] it is the sixth-largest nuclear power in the world." With this informative and readable story, Waller provides an eye-opening look into the top-secret world of nuclear submarines. Worthwhile reading for all public, academic, and special collections.DDavid Alperstein, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Nebraska Submariners Cited in This Bookp. xi
Prologuep. 1
Part I The First Week
1. Going to Seap. 15
2. The Channelp. 41
3. A New Lifep. 56
4. "Dive, Dive"p. 71
5. The "Cob"p. 87
6. Listeningp. 99
7. Casualtiesp. 115
8. Rabbit and Wolfp. 135
9. The Wardroomp. 153
10. Looking Outsidep. 163
11. The Hostagep. 178
12. Sounds of Silencep. 188
13. Sundayp. 199
14. Cookies and Cream Themp. 203
15. Angles and Danglesp. 238
Part II The Next Two Months
16. Free at Lastp. 247
17. On Guardp. 255
18. Halfway Nightp. 264
19. Emergencyp. 277
20. Love and Hatep. 283
Part III Going Home
21. "Hard to Describe"p. 293
Postscriptp. 312
Acknowledgmentsp. 315
Source Notesp. 319
Appendix The Rest of the USS Nebraska Crewp. 329
Indexp. 331