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



From Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to The Hunt for Red October, readers the world over have demonstrated an enduring fascination with travel under the sea. Yet the riveting story behind the invention of the submarine--an epic saga of genius, persistence, ruthlessness, and deceit--is almost completely unknown.Like Henry Ford and the Wright brothers, John Philip Holland was completely self-taught, a brilliant man raised in humble circumstances, earning his living as a schoolteacher and choirmaster. But all the while he was obsessed with creating a machine that could successfully cruise beneath the waves. His struggle to unlock the mystery behind controlled undersea navigation would take three decades, during which he endured skepticism, disappointment, and betrayal. But his indestructible belief in himself and his ideas led him to finally succeed where so many others had failed.Going Deep is a vivid chronicle of the fierce battles not only under the water, but also in the back rooms of Wall Street and the committee rooms of Congress. A rousing adventure at its heart--surrounded by an atmosphere of corruption and greed--this a story of bravery, passion, and the unbreakable determination to succeed against long odds.

Product Details

Pegasus Books
Publish Date
August 14, 2018
5.7 X 1.0 X 8.7 inches | 0.8 pounds
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About the Author

Lawrence Goldstone began life on Wall Street and has now written over a dozen books. His latest is Drive!: Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age. The first book in this series of innovation histories was Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies. He and his wife, author Nancy Goldstone, live in East Hampton, New York.


A well-crafted combination of technology history, tortuous military politics, and the biography of a shamefully neglected American inventor.
In this delightful biography, John Holland, the little-remembered inventor of the military submarine, receives a well-deserved publicity boost from historian Goldstone. Goldstone revives the reputation of a great American inventor.
Goldstone paints a vivid portrait of two brilliant inventors. An enjoyable book for readers interested in innovations during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, along with military or American history.
An intriguing story not just of the technical advances in the submarine, but also of the machinations of Holland, his major competitor, Simon Lake, and the industrialists who backed them.
Lawrence Goldstone has written a fascinating history of the development of the attack submarine, which is, up to today and far into the future, perhaps the most lethal naval weapon ever devised.--Ray Mabus, 75th Secretary of the Navy
With humor and grace, Lawrence Goldstone describes how entrepreneurs with new ideas (the submarine, in this case) struggled for recognition and acceptance among purblind government bureaucrats, ambitious politicians, and the conservative institution of the Navy. This is a well-crafted, highly readable account of the complexities, compromises, and nuanced relationships between the individuals, ideas, and institutions necessary for innovators to succeed.--Justin L. C. Eldridge, Naval Historian
A readable, compelling, and intriguing story of the development of the U.S. submarine industry at the turn of the 20th century.--Joel I. Holwitt, "Execute Against Japan: The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare"
A detailed and thoroughly absorbing history of early submarine development. Goldstone reveals the rivalry between two visionaries, John Holland and Simon Lake, and the surrounding intrigue in the competition to build submarines for the US Navy. A fascinating read.--Paul Varnadore, former US Submarine Commanding Officer