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

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  4,917 Ratings  ·  308 Reviews
This real-life "Hunt for Red October" is a story Naval Intelligence doesn't want you to know: the dramatic history of America's highly clandestine, dangerous, and sometimes deadly submarine espionage missions, from the Cold War thorough the Clinton administration.
ebook, 757 pages
Published March 4th 2008 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
Dec 23, 2011 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
Apr 20, 2008 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
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
Mar 12, 2008 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 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
Feb 15, 2017 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!
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
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
David Griffiths
May 21, 2013 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 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 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sean Chick
Oct 02, 2016 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.
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.
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. John Craven was Visiting Professor of Ocean Engineering at MIT during 1969-1971 between some of his U.S. Navy assignments. He arranged an interview for me after I got my OE Master's degree in 1971. As a result of that interview, my next nine years on active duty were the most thrilling of my life. This book relates only a fraction of the amazing ocean technology feats during those years.
Stephen Herron
Jun 23, 2014 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 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 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 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.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I remember when this book first came out. I was a teenager and my father picked it up immediately and was so excited about it that he told me about half the book in an evening when he was done. I remember lots of stories from it but always felt like I was missing some. It was one of those books he had insisted on me reading one day and even gave me but that I didn't feel like I needed to read because I knew most of the stories (which did not turn out to be true).

Then I came across it again this
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bling Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage (2000) by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew and Annette Lawrence Dew tells some of the story of the remarkable role played by US submarines in the Cold War.

The book starts by describing the changes of submarines after WWII with diesel boats that would remain underwater most of the time to nuclear powered boats that could remain underwater for long periods of time.

The book then gets into some of the exploits of the nuclear powered
Scott Martin
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Audiobook) This was an overall good read about various accounts of US intelligence activities involving submarines during the Cold War. While the book was published 17 years ago, the information is not dated, and even as more information will become declassified over the following years, what Sontag reveals in this work will stand up through time. Using a combination of official sources and first hand accounts (known and anonymous), this work gives the reader a sense of what the missions were l ...more
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting history of submarines and what our government didn't want us to know about them, particularly the risks they took both in espionage and the fundamental safety (or lack of) of the early submarines. Recommended to us by a friend who was on one of those submarines and away from his family for months at a time without them knowing where he was or when he would be home.
Una muy interesante visión a un mundo desconocido. La verdad es que me faltaron unas cuantas páginas, dado que lo estaba leyendo online y lo borraron, pero no fue tanto lo que me faltó y lo anterior era muy bueno.
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, although there weren't as many stories as I expected in a book this long. It felt like a lot of filler content when compared to Ambrose and other historical nonfiction. Still, a perspective that probably can't be gained anywhere else.
Kimberly Patton
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Super interesting but so detailed and full of challenging vocabulary catering to war, submarine and espionage. I would love to give this book another try later if I can understand it a little bit better.
Loren Shultz
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
great piece of history previously unknown to me
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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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