First Person

TIME's Douglas Waller spent three weeks on a Navy sub to research his book, Big Red, which HarperCollins publishes next month. His experience:

For half an hour, I drove the U.S.S. Nebraska, a Trident submarine that can fire nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. No, correct that. I sat nervously in the inboard seat, my hands gripping the steering wheel in front of me tightly. A young sailor and diving officer behind me actually drove the sub as it sailed under the Atlantic Ocean, telling me every move to make with the "stick," their nickname for the wheel. Steering a nuclear-powered submarine sounds impressive, but...

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