In my comments section, New Jovian Thunderbolt remarked that I would probably enjoy A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire. I seemed to recollect that someone else I knew had recommended it to me, most likely staghounds, and so I decided to give it a whirl.
I'm a little tired this morning because I was late getting to sleep last night, as this is simply a delightful book!
It's really hard to categorize: The setting is the last days of the patchwork dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, before and during the '14-'18 war, told as the reminiscences of centenarian Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine submarine officer Otto Prohaska.
And those early subs were something else. Even claustrophobic WWII Jerry U-boats, like the U-505 you can tour in Chicago's Museum of Science & Industry, are roomy by comparison, and a 1940s US Navy fleet boat, like a Gato- or Balao-class is absolutely palatial.
To put it in perspective, the USS Gato, launched in 1941, was over 300 feet long and displaced more than 1,500 tons on the surface, while the 1915-vintage Austro-Hungarian U-10 was under a hundred feet long and 126 tons, with all seventeen crew aboard. I've lived on a houseboat only twenty some feet shorter and it was crowded if me and my roommate had a friend sleep over...
At turns funny or absurd or poignant or bleak, there's action, and enough techno detail of early sub warfare to please a jaded Clancy fan (except you actually get, you know, plot and characters, too.) Two thumbs up!