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Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
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Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,792 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Little is known--and less has been published--about American submarine espionage during the Cold War. These submerged sentinels silently monitored the Soviet Union's harbors, shadowed its subs, watched its missile tests, eavesdropped on its conversations, and even retrieved top-secret debris from the bottom of the sea. In an engaging mix of first-rate journalism and histor...more
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Published (first published 1998)
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Apr 20, 2008 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cold war/history/politics geeks
Shelves: non-fiction
So this one time I was watching The Hunt For Red October on TV, and marveling that this whole submarine espionage was kind of a silly thing. "Yeah?" my dad said. "You should read this book."

So I did. It turns out that it wasn't just silly, it was INSANE. The book isn't spectacularly well-written, and it's definitely the kind of thing that makes people look at you like a geek, but wow. This is how the Cold War was run, according to the confidential interviews and investigative journalism of the a...more
This book is a fascinating look at the spy missions of American submarines during the Cold War. The authors did a phenomenal amount of research, to ascertain the true nature of the Navy's and the CIA's underwater spy missions. The book briefly describes some of the new technologies that were applied, and goes into depth (is this pun intended?) about the challenges, problems, accidents, and successes encountered during the secret missions. The book delves into problems of conscience, as the offic...more
I find the story interesting having lived through some aspects of it long ago as a submariner. Nice to know what might have been going on in the forward section of the boat while I spent my time in the after section in engineering. However, I'm taking some of these stories with a grain of salt since it appears that some of them have been "peached" up according to some Amazon reviewers.
As to the fate of the Scorpion, the authors leave us baffled regarding the causes; first they relate a Navy anal...more
Andrew Frueh
I picked this book up as reading material for a Hawaiian cruise. What better place to read a book about drama on the high seas then on board a ship? In regard to ocean going drama, it did deliver to an extent - but The Hunt for Red October or Crimson Tide it was not. To be fair, it turned out to be a very different book, and I learned a lot from it. First an foremost, this is a book about real submarine warfare, not fiction. Also, it is not simply a history or glamorization of submarines, it is...more
Excellent narrative of submarine warfar with a Tom Clancy touch. An early sub, Cochino, that went down in ’49 from a fire from the batteries. 10 men were lost from Sub Tusk in rescue attempt. The sub world is filled with games of tag and chicken that were incredibly dangerous for the crews and world peace. In 1958, the first US sub Gudgeon was forced to surface from being caught by the soviets in their traditional areas. Much of the book is about the Navies tapping of Soviet communication cables...more
Where to start...

This isn't a history book, this is a New York Times Bestselling Anecdote book. The anecdotes are a collection of amusing, horrifying, blood pumping, low grade jingoist bar room stories. And taken as that, it is a very enjoyable read and why it doesn't get only one star.

I think that without the Prologue and Afterword I could taken the book for what it is. Unfortunately, the Prologue proclaims that after years and years of hard research the authors can finally (and exclusively) te...more
Michael Burnam-fink
There has to be something wrong with you if you don't like submarine movies. Hunt for Red October, Das Boot, Crimson Tide, even relatively schlock like K-19 is solid in my book. Take a bunch of men, cram then in a steel tube deep beneath the waves, throw in a nuclear reactor and a dozen ways to end the world, and you have instant drama.

Well, sometimes the truth surpasses fiction. Blind Man's Bluff covers some of the most harrowing intelligence battles of the Cold War from the point of view of Am...more
Stephen Herron
A thoroughly enjoyable and educational read. If you like Tom Clancy's submarine stuff, you have probably already read this. If not, I'd definitely recommend it. I particularly liked the insights from ex-Soviet naval personnel, though there wasn't nearly enough of that. A very minor niggle.
H. Paul Honsinger
For anyone who is not acquainted with what US submarines have been up to over the past fifty years, this book is going to be a real eye opener. For anyone who has some knowledge, this book will serve as an impeccably researched exploration of the fascinating things you don't know. I don't want to drop any spoilers here, but the dangerous and inventive operations of these craft will astonish even the most jaded espionage buff.

The book is well written. The dramatic parts are told dramatically, the...more
Account of American spying on the Russians using nuclear armed submarines. This books outlines how close the two superpowers came to armed confrontations during the cold war. It is full of fantastical accounts of the CIA, NSA and other bodies trying to listen to Soviet communications. One of the most interesting is of course the attempt to raise a sunken Soviet submarine off the ocean floor using a specially built (by Howard Hughes) ship!
Anne Ward
Blind Man's Bluff tells the stories of submarine warfare during the Cold War. Sontag makes the tight spaces and high tension of submarine warfare come to life. Sontag's ambition to sum up the Cold War into a neat package drags the conclusion and the book down.

Three Stars: Entertaining and worth reading, but dragged down by an ending that tries to do too much.
From my own direct experiences in the submarine force in the US Navy decades later, much of this material seems plausible but unlikely.

I am told, by people who were actually part of the submarine warfare community at the time, that roughly half of it is utter crap and the other half people should be in prison for.

If you're a fan of sea stories and don't mind taking them with a bit of a grain of salt, this is probably going to be a good read for you. Sontag seems to have done a lot of work tryin...more
I really enjoyed the first 200 pages or so, then it turned into a real snoozer. If it weren't for the initial interesting stories and pictures, I'd have given this only two stars. As it now stands I haven't read past page 200 because the joy of reading this book disappeared about 30 pages ago and it seems like the snoozefest is only going to continue. Since stopping about a week ago I have read another two books so I know the issue isn't with my desire to read, it's with my desire to continue re...more
David Griffiths
I used to tease my brother that if submarines ever proved themselves, we would through a couple in the hanger bay (the deck below the flight deck on a carier). He would respond by telling me that I wouldn't be so cocky if I knew what submarines were really about. "So tell me," I would say.

"Can't. Classified. But, if you really want to know, read Blind Man's Bluff."

I read it, and I was stunned. I thought the flight deck was the most exciting and the most dangerous place a man could be. I was wro...more
During the Cold War, American submarines spied on the Soviet Union, in ways that were both legal and illegal, like underwater U-2s. One chapter tells about Operation Ivy Bells, the tapping of an underwater cable in the Sea of Okhotsk between a Soviet submarine base and the command of the Soviet Pacific Fleet. Another tells about Project Azorian, which was an attempt to raise a sunken Soviet missile submarine; there is now a whole book about it, which purports to correct the mistakes in this book...more
Non-fiction, very well researched. It is not dry and is a page turner. The book is able to explain the nature of the brotherhood of the submariners through stories where our submariners are caught up in the loss of Soviet subs... it matters not the politics, it matters that respected submariners are lost.

The development of the US and Soviet fleets is tracked as are the accidents, incidents, and tragedies. The researchers have done a phenomenol job of digging deeply into the stories to pull out d...more
Synopsis: The story of the U.S. Silent Service throughout the Cold War.

Thoughts: I'd read this once and remembered liking it, but not much else about it. This spring I was struggling to get through the downright stultifying book Project Azorian about the C.I.A. Glomar Explorer stunt (have you heard of that crazy thing? Where the C.I.A. tried to literally lift a sunken Soviet submarine off the bottom of the sea and into the waiting cargo hold of a huge mining ship?) After slogging through a few c...more
Stephen Phillips
Many chapters of the Cold War were unseen and unknown to the general public. Among the most secret operations were those conducted undersea by the U.S. Navy’s submarine force. In Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew tell tales derived from interviewing submariners that include technological marvels and unparalleled courage.

Before reading this book, most have a perception of the submarine force consisting of two main missions, at...more
Not many people truley understand the impact that the submarine has made to warfare. Still fewer people realise the critical role submarines played in spying on the Soviet Union during the cold war. If you enjoyed the Hunt for the Red October then you will enjoy this, because it is real history.

The book follows the progression of the covert submarine operations from the end of the Second World War till now. It gives great insight into the men that crewed these boast as well as the me who command...more

I started reading this book on the recommendation of one of my American colleagues at work . At first , I was a little skeptical to read this book on the American submarines espionage programs that ran in the cold war era as I was not too aware of the American or Societ political setup , but Once I started reading it , i was glued to the book right from chapter one with its simple , yet powerful , narration . It was as if the action was happening right in front me .
Excellent write up by the wr...more
Jeff Dawson
Mar 26, 2012 Jeff Dawson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Submariners and history buffs.

At times I pride myself on knowing a little bit about history and the mechanics that have shaped out world today. I must admit I felt very humbled by this book. Yes, most of us know of the Cuban Missle Crises and how close the countdown clock approached a confrontation between the US and the USSR. It's what we didn't know after the Crisis passed that was so enlightening.

The authors do an excellent job of combing the stories of the submariners who took part in "keeping the peace" with the current...more
Blind Man’s Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew is one of the most captivating books I have ever read. This book is a compilation of short stories from the submarine fleet from the cold war. In the beginning of the book diesel submarines are the most complex the navy has. These boats can submerge only shortly before requiring air and having to resurface. As the book progresses nuclear submarines are developed with greater capabilities. This led to more daring and suspenseful spy missions...more
Bill W.
I served a couple of years in missile submarines (SAM HOUSTON, HENRY L STIMSON) in the mid-1960's. At the time, and for most of the many years since, I could say practically nil about the fascinating technology we worked with, and the (often all-too-) exciting tactical situations we got involved in. This book presents an accurate, objective picture of the submarine Cold War of those days. A young radioman once came to me, troubled by the thought of unleashing Armageddon if the day ever came. He...more
Sep 03, 2013 Will rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Submarine story fans
Recommended to Will by: Big Al
The nonfiction rendering of the American Navy's submarine spying program of the Cold War years, 1950--1991. USS Cochino to USS Parche.

Growing up on the east coast I had been around both fast attack and SSBN submarine veterans almost my entire adult life. Of course, my two best subvet friends, an E-9 and a Captain, wouldn't tell me jack shit about any of the missions they had ever been on due to the 1000 year non-disclosure forms the Navy had them sign at the height of the cold war. While they bo...more
Feb 20, 2008 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone willing to step out of their reading comfort zone in the interest of a gripping narrative
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I read this book when it first came out -- I actually bought it as a Christmas gift for my dad (right up his alley) and ended up reading it entire, much to my surprise, before putting it under the tree!

I never would have thought I would have gotten into this book, as I was not too into non-fiction in general at the time, and certainly not navy or submarine history! But, as a Russian/East European Area Studies kinda gal, I started leafing through it, and before I knew it, I was completely hooked....more
It's pretty amazing some of the stories that have happened underwater. Not only are they daring, but they're quite dangerous as well. As the nuclear arms battle grew bigger and bigger, so did the possible consequences. This book takes a look as some of those situations and their outcomes. Quite an enjoyable read and a real eye opener to things that are going on beneath the depths of the ocean.
This book is about US submarine espionage and the history of the submarine. A former submarine officer recommended it to me. The book is filled with fascinating details about the development of the submarine and the influence it had on intelligence gathering. I am told that it is well researched and accurate in its details, and the authors certainly present a convincing argument about the important role subs played. It is well written, although the plethora of names and titles can be confusing t...more
Peter Smith
I thought this might be some Tom Clancy hyper-macho spy novel crap but it actually turned out to be a pretty interesting non-fiction look into the U.S. submarine spying operation during the Cold War. The stories are all pretty gripping whether it's the brazen missions undertaken by the US Navy or just the perilous underwater environment they find themselves in. One thing this book could have used is the perspective from the Russian side, but unfortunately that's limited to a short appendix at th...more
While I've been advised that some items within this book have been shown to be incorrect, I suspect most events are accurately reported. The authors had access to documents that have been declassified and to individuals who were a part of the event itself. What the book reports is the cat and mouse games we played with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. These games were daring and dangerous and often resulted in the loss of a submarine and all hands on board.
It is a book worth reading if o...more
Nathan Langford
Great reading in the blend between technical and story-telling. At the time add this to my 'Good Reads' list, the discovery of the remains of the Air France jet that was lost in the storm coming from Brazil is approx. 2 months and the section of this book dealign with the lost submarine the 'Scorpion' gives you reasonable imagination as to how they might have finally found that Air France aircraft - that is how informative this book was.

Even if you do not enjoy military reading but have some int...more
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Mansfield Public ...: Blind Man's Bluff Review by Randy Walikonis 1 1 Aug 12, 2013 10:58AM  
Blind Man's Bluff/Move Over Clancy 8 43 Jul 11, 2013 11:06AM  
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