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

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  7,639 ratings  ·  473 reviews

For decades American submarines have roamed the depths in a dangerous battle for information and advantage in missions known only to a select few. Now, after six years of research, those missions are told in Blind Man's Bluff, a magnificent achievement in investigative reporting. It reads like a spy thriller -- except everything in it is true. This is an epic of adventure,

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Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 3rd 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published October 19th 1998)
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Arthur Schaffer To the best of my Knowledge , they are close, for security reasons sometimes you just cannot be truthful. They are easy to track (the hull numbers)..M…moreTo the best of my Knowledge , they are close, for security reasons sometimes you just cannot be truthful. They are easy to track (the hull numbers)..Most Submarines(Boats) now even have web pages...(less)

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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Kevin Shepherd
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I did time on two submarines during my six year naval enlistment, first in the Atlantic (USS Simon Bolivar) and then the Pacific (USS Ohio). As a nuclear missile technician, MT2/SS, I have a few Cold War stories of my own. Nothing I have though would rival the events Sontag & Drew describe here.

Declassification and the Freedom of Information Act cleared the way for public disclosure of these covert, top secret ops. This is Spy vs Spy played out on a global scale, with dire consequences for anyo
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Fred Shaw
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book if you want to know more about what subs do. I found it fascinating.
Hai Quan
Sep 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
PROLOGUE

I am sure many if not most of us have watched one or many movies about how tribes ,city states and kingdoms in the long past, perhaps in the Middle Age era, screwing each other with spears, swords, arrows and stone throwers.

We spent many hours in the darkened belly of theater, excited, thrilled ,gaping mouthed while in the silver screen the wild half naked warriors in horse backs butchering each other

That was in dry land.

In rivers and ocean, we watched warships driven by chained slave
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David Rubenstein
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
Edward
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
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Nooilforpacifists
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When released, this book was a revelation: the first peek into Soviet-American "hide-and-seek" among nucular-armed, nucular-powered "Boomer" submarines. Until Tom Clancy, it was Naval Institute Press's biggest seller. And according to a client, an ex diving officer on an Ohio Class, everything written here was top secret--and true.

And suspenseful as hell.
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Becky
May 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
An absolutely fascinating book that is a great broad introduction to submariner's and their work for the US. Each one of the stories shared could easily have been its own 400 page book, and a few I'll probably search out. ...more
Emily
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Bob Mayer
Apr 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
From the Glomar Explorer to tapping into undersea cables, the Cold War under the ocean was full of interesting stories. This book covers them in great detail. I can tell you that the "Cold" War was never really Cold. Lives were lost as both superpowers confronted each other in a myriad of ways. The story of how this unfolded underwater is fascinating. ...more
Jeffrey
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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Andrew
Dec 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Will
Jun 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Wayland Smith
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: popsugar2019
This is a very specifically focused history of American submarines as they are used in espionage. While there's some other history here and there, it's largely focused on the Cold War. Some of these stories I had heard or read parts of before, some were new to me.

What I give the authors huge credit for is that, while it would be easy to just talk about facts and figures and dates, they went the extra step. A lot of what is discussed, especially towards the end, is the toll that both the mission
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Shane Phillips
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are some amazing stories. Secretly placing a 6 ton recording device on a Russian underwater cable just off the coast of Russia that can record a years worth of Russian military communications is just crazy. But, it happened.
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, a
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Brooks
Mar 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Lori Krause
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves true history written in the finest narrative. Several times I found myself lost in the pages, somewhere between paragraphs. I am somewhat biased since I love historical naval warfare. That said, it doesn't mean I can't spot a truly riveting recall of adventure and courage. Blind Man's Bluff is simply one of the best naval recounts I have read. The fact that it is true only adds to it's amazing, intrigue. One of my favorite recounts is during the a ...more
Michael
Mar 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
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Leelan
Mar 28, 2014 added it
Very good! Never knew any of this. Well. I did know about the Glomar Explorer fiasco.
Teri-K
Apr 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I'm not a military history buff by any means. In fact, I only started this book because my son was a Nuclear Power Tech in the Navy and now tests the subs as they are built or refurbished. His friends who know said this book was so accurate they were surprised the authors weren't charged with revealing official secrets. There are things in here no one has ever talked about. So I read it to give me something to talk about with my son. I'm really glad I did.

There are a lot of details and name
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General Greysorrow
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: military
I have been fascinated with submarines and submarine operations since as far back as I can remember. It all started with a little game called "Red Storm Rising" (yes, based on the book), which I first played on my Tandy 1000 PC back in 1989...in all its glorious 16 colors!!!

Flash forward to my desire to enlist in the US Navy during my senior year of high school, which didn't last - but nearly led to Annapolis and/or Submarine School...

Nevertheless, it was amazing to read about covert submarine o
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Mark Arbanasin
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read of US submarines during the Cold War. Would recommend to any fans of Naval history. It's definitely a bit anecdotal and more in the realm of popular history given the subject matter, however the authors have obviously done a tremendous amount of research to compile the stories they tell.

It's always spectacular to understand the details of how these ships operate and grew in their ability to pull off daring feats so deep under our oceans' surface. In that regard this book reall
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Tanner Nelson
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The authors masterfully detail the various tales of submarine espionage during the Cold War. Every individual story was as gripping as a Tom Clancy novel. This book is a masterpiece of journalism.
Judy Dobles
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional and detailed account. Super reading.
Tracy
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book reinforces the belief that submariners are a different breed who put up with many things we mere mortals would find intolerable. We owe these brave men much.
Lisa
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! This was my 2nd time reading it, 5 years after I read it for the first time. It was just as exhilarating of a journey and it continues to be one of my most quoted and recommended books to others interested in the shrouded history of submarine espionage.

Written like a novel with true tales about real people, this is definitely a book I will revisit periodically in my life.
JMA
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very enlightening and engaging. Hard to put down. Crazy world under the sea. Ariel has nothing on this.
Ezra
Jul 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Left me wanting more and I'm really curious how espionage today works. ...more
Chris
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
4.5 Stars. The account of American cold-war submarine espionage highlights the historical developments by a series of Tom Clancy-esque stories around a particular submarine, incident, or project. As such, the book moves from personal details of some sailor's trips to broad policy discussions and U.S.-Soviet disarmament negotiations. It is incredibly well researched.

The authors do an exceptional job weaving the facts together into compelling stories that are both gripping and informative. By read
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Nate
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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!
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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 45 Jul 11, 2013 11:06AM  

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