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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

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  4,593 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
Over the course of five years, investigative reporters Sherry Sontag and Chris Drew interviewed hundreds of men who had never spoken about their underwater lives—not even to their wives and children. They uncovered a wealth of classified information: the tapping of undersea Soviet telephone cables, the stealing of Soviet weapons, the tragic collisions of enemy submarines. ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 19th 1998 by PublicAffairs (first published 1998)
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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
Apr 20, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Dec 15, 2011 Edward rated it liked it
Shelves: military-history
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
Dec 23, 2011 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Mar 12, 2008 Brooks rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
David Griffiths
May 21, 2013 David Griffiths rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 16, 2012 Michael Burnam-Fink rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war, 2012
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
Jul 20, 2016 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, a very good read. It gives a very good insight into the development of US Cold War submarine surveillance technology and tactics and how it played out in the broader spectrum of US Soviet relations - both detente and deterrent.

Whilst some of the narrative is overly dramatic and emotive, it does add that 'rollicking good naval fiction' feel, which may make it easier reading for the casual enthusiast.

Definitely a book that anyone with a naval or intelligence background will find 'interest
Peter Mcloughlin
Nuclear submarines were a key part of cold war strategy. They guaranteed a credible deterrent for the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction. Hard to detect and carrying Hydrogen Bombs on ICBMs the Americans and the Soviets played a cat and mouse game with deadly seriousness. The crews of the U.S. nuclear subs risked and sometimes lost there lives in this cold war game. They were critical to U.S. strategy. They also in addition to there deterrent capability were needed to spy the Soviet's coastli ...more
Oct 08, 2007 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Stephen Herron
Jun 23, 2014 Stephen Herron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Stanley Cramer
Nov 24, 2014 Stanley Cramer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an ex-submariner serving on a SSBN missile boat during the time covered by this book, I finally know a lot more about what the attack boats were doing while we floated around who knows where. The book was a very interesting read but not riveting.
Steve Wilson
Aug 19, 2012 Steve Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A real life 'Hunt for Red October'. Focuses on the Cold War and the unseen struggle between Soviet and U.S. boats. Hard to put down!
Philip Hollenback
Oct 28, 2010 Philip Hollenback rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read about the use of submarines for espionage during the cold war. My only complaint is that it was too short.
Jan 29, 2017 Halie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
As someone who's a few years too young to really remember Cold War tensions and fears, this was an interesting read. I was unclear on what portion of the details (conversations, specific people's motivations, small happenings onboard subs) were able to be reliably confirmed, but since I was reading for enjoyment that wasn't a huge sticking point for me.
Feb 15, 2017 Nate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book about the many missions happening beneath the waves during the cold war. The balls of steel these guys had is without doubt. The lengths that they had to go to gather information is almost unheard of in these days of online espionage. The stories are funny, tense, and keep you on the edge of your seat. Definitely recommend!
Feb 20, 2017 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, military
Oh my goodness. I should have read this book years ago. This was an amazing story about submarine warfare and Submarine warriors.

Highly recommend to any military history fans.

The ending feels a bit dated now 17 yrs after and post-9/11, but this was an incredible book nonetheless. Cannot recommend it enought
Matthew Vernacchia
Engaging history. Good level of detail - I enjoyed the technical descriptions. However, I did get the feeling that the authors lack a technical background from a few passages. Good storytelling and personal drama.
Eric Stockwell
Feb 09, 2017 Eric Stockwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great series of anecdotes about cold-war-era submarine espionage and the risks and political games that went along with it.
Ilona Isaacs
Jan 06, 2017 Ilona Isaacs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eye-opening. Content verified. Very hard to read.
Blake Hermes
Nov 20, 2016 Blake Hermes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blind Man's Bluff is a collection of true stories written about the brave men who operated submarines during the Cold War. Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew wrote this novel so that the public would finally know about the dangers that these men faced to ensure the safety of their country. The authors tell their audience the purpose of this novel in the prologue when they write,”And so we write about them, and for them. The people, their names, and the events in this book are real” (p. xv) In t ...more
Sean Chick
Oct 02, 2016 Sean Chick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The harrowing and exciting tale of the Cold War from the perspective of American submarines. Much is devoted to the efforts to tap Soviet cables on the ocean floor. The parts on K-129 are of particular interest, revealing that much of the submarine was destroyed in the CIA's idiotic plan to raise the lost ship.
Jeremy Perron
Oct 29, 2014 Jeremy Perron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew put together a great book telling previously untold stories of the heroes who defended the United States underwater during the Cold War. These sailors didn’t have their story told before for various reasons. First, the Cold War had no battles in the traditional sense there is no Yorktown or Gettysburg for people to make movies about. Their battles were espionage by cable taping and sub shadowing. Second, everything was classified. Their stories could not be tol ...more
An interesting and enjoyable read. The author did a excellent job of showing the obstacles that needed to be overcome to make most of the missions a reality. The rivalry between the Navy and CIA spooks was interesting as well as the internal rivalries within the Navy itself.
Aug 07, 2016 B A rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad I randomly decided to read this book, because it was so interesting. I had never really thought about or appreciated submarines much until I watched the Hunt for Red October a couple of months ago. That's when I realized how alien submarines and life on a submarine are. This book talks about a parallel universe that the vast majority of Americans knew almost nothing about until recently.
I think what I enjoyed the most about the book was how close to scifi America's submarine program wa
Alex Lee
Jul 18, 2015 Alex Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, history
Here we have the exemplary stories of the use of submarines in the cold war as spying devices for the soviets. Undergriding this story is a celebration of American rationality and ingenuity in the face of bureaucracies and their financial vehicles in attempting to control cost. There is also no small celebration of the key heros in this story as they attempt to do what is right for the American people.

It's interesting this was matched by the Soviet's ability to infiltrate American society and g
May 22, 2013 Zack rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
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
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Mansfield Public ...: Blind Man's Bluff Review by Randy Walikonis 1 2 Aug 12, 2013 10:58AM  
Blind Man's Bluff/Move Over Clancy 8 44 Jul 11, 2013 11:06AM  
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