About Nautilus Trilogy

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This is a history book about one thing: the USS Nautilus (SSN-571). Unlike the usual history book, Nautilus Trilogy is heavy on documents and light on narrative. The documents speak for themselves.

A book like this has been in my head since 2004, the year my late husband, Captain William R. Anderson, and I visited the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas. He was writing a second book about his 1958 under-ice explorations while commander of Nautilus. It was a top-secret mission personally authorized by President Eisenhower.

Quite frankly, my husband did not want to go to the Library as much as I did and I understood why. His memory remained keen to the day he died but he suffered from macular degeneration and it was very difficult and tiresome for him to read. Besides, we already had boxes and boxes of period material. What more did we need?

The bad mood disappeared when we began uncovering pertinent material previously unknown. We examined (by way of my eyes) folder after folder of letters, calendars, press releases, newspaper clippings, and memoranda produced by the men and women who worked in the White House fifty years earlier, some of whom he knew. By the end of the first day he wanted to find a really good restaurant and talk over our findings.

It’s a glorious day when your husband suggests  such a treat and rare indeed when he admits (in so many words) that he was wrong and you were right. I do not remember where we ate but I will never forget the fun, excitement really, that Bill and I experienced literally turning the pages of history. 

That experience led me to the idea of using period material to tell the Grand Era story of the USS Nautilus (SSN-571). I wanted the Nautilus Trilogy reader of any age to experience turning the pages of history. Moreover, telling the story in a highly graphic manner (with a separate focus on PANOPOs and the word “nautilus”) is something I thought might add a meaningful dimension to my husband’s books, Nautilus 90 North (1959) with Clay Blair and The Ice Diaries (2008) with Don Keith. 

For years I did nothing. Early last year, I shared some of my thoughts with Wanda Sells, the supportive and energetic wife of James Sells (Nautilus 1963-1967), and the chair of the Nautilus Alumni Association’s 2018 reunion. Wanda took me seriously and suggested I contact her son, John, who grew up listening to Nautilus sea stories and had computer and graphic skills to boot. 

One conversation with John and the ball began rolling. John and Dawn hauled themselves and lots of scanning, photographic, and computer equipment to meet me in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of University Libraries, University of Tennessee Knoxville,  and the permanent home of my husband’s artifacts, political and naval. Some weeks later, the entire Sells trio and I met at the Submarine Force Library and Museum, Groton, Connecticut, for four more days of scanning and photographing old documents. 

Meanwhile, John Yuill and I discussed adding his wonderful, historically accurate Nautilus drawings to the mix. Suddenly, I had thousands of documents—enough material for several books. Enter Gary Zambrana, a family friend of 20 years. I begged his help and out of respect for my husband, for whom Gary had performed miracles on faded, wrinkled photographs, he agreed to immerse himself in documents and computer graphics to create Nautilus Trilogy.

One last note: The documents are the real thing, enhanced to improve readability. Long narratives were retyped, formatted for the book, and appropriate photographs inserted. Some documents were “rebuilt” to retain original look and feel. I have done my best to identify sources and photo credits.

I hope you enjoy Nautilus Trilogy.

Patricia Walters Anderson
August 3, 2018