At 11.30 am on Saturday August 12, 2000, two massive explosions in rapid succession shook the icy Arctic waters of the Barents Sea. The "Kursk", one of the largest and most technologically advanced nuclear subs in the world, carrying a crew of 118 Russian sailors, had suffered a major, unexplained accident, and rapidly crashed to the ocean floor.
Most of us still remember how the news of this terrible accident was reported around the world, and the agonising tension of the days when the doomed crew waited for rescue, while the Russians seemed to be turning away all international offers of help, until it was too late.
Robert Moore, the former Moscow Correspondent of ITN, and now their Foreign Affairs editor, has written a thrilling and authoritative investigative book on this tragedy. He talked to everyone . . . from the families of the crew, the Russian officials, the international rescue teams, and the US submarine crews who were monitoring the Kursk's movements, to produce a book which will not only recreate the tragic and terrifying final moments of the doomed submarine and its crew, but which will also explore the events leading up to it, and the political, social and environmental issues raised by the catastrophe.
For example, what will come out is how (and why) the Cold War is still being waged beneath the world's oceans, while at the same time the Americans and Russians are collaborating on building an International Space Station; what is the truth behind the Russian claims of a collision with an American sub; how Russia's ailing under-resourced and maintained nuclear fleet is an ecological disaster waiting to happen, etc.
But above all, this is a human story, how the Kursk's crew was doomed, how their surviving families fought to learn the truth about their fate, about the British civilian North Sea divers who tried to assist in the rescue mission; told in a narrative with all the excitement, immediacy and emotional intensity, of bestsellers such as 'A Perfect Storm' and 'Black Hawk Down'.