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Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage Paperback – October 3, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (October 3, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006097771X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060977719
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (509 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 historical narrative, Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew, and Annette Lawrence Drew describe what went on.

"Most of the stories in Blind Man's Bluff have never been told publicly," they write, "and none have ever been told in this level of detail." Among their revelations is the most complete accounting to date of the 1968 disappearance of the U.S.S. Scorpion; the story of how the Navy located a live hydrogen bomb lost by the Air Force; and a plot by the CIA and Howard Hughes to steal a Soviet sub. The most interesting chapter reveals how an American sub secretly tapped Soviet communications cables beneath the waves. Blind Man's Bluff is a compelling book about the courage, ingenuity, and patriotism of America's underwater spies. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In an unusually successful amalgam, veteran journalists Sontag and Christopher Drew combine a gripping story with admirable research to relate previously unknown information. Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. depended heavily on submarines for intelligence gathering, whether tracking Soviet missile subs, monitoring Soviet harbors and missile tests or, in some cases, retrieving lost Soviet equipment. The U.S.S.R. responded with everything from comprehensive espionage operations to depth charge attacks on particularly intrusive snoopers. The broad outlines of this clandestine confrontation are relatively familiar, but the details have largely remained secret. Although the authors have based their book largely on interviews with submariners, intelligence operatives and politicians, they recognize the possibility of distortion and back up personal accounts with an elaborate and convincing system of verification. While necessarily incomplete, the resulting work depicts what was arguably the most successful long-term, large-scale intelligence operation in American history. From captains to seamen, the participants combined technical proficiency, insouciant courage and a cheerful scorn for regulations that often interfered with their missions. That mind-set was hardly calculated to avoid direct confrontations, and accidental collisions were not uncommon. The authors nevertheless make a solid case that the risk of a destabilizing incident was far outweighed by the gains of the campaign?especially given the depth of mutual ignorance during the Cold War.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Good story that is well written.
William L. Hendricks
First thing I did after a good book came out and was read, was to buy him a copy and tell him to read it too.
William Stirwood
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more.
Charles C. King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By E. E Pofahl on February 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Confronted with fading memories, secrecy oaths, security clearances and old loyalties, the authors have done an outstanding job writing a fascinating account that rivals the best cold war fiction. This is a true story of American submarine espionage during the cold war and as the authors note "In silence and stealth, but most importantly in secrecy, attack subs carried out as many as two thousand spy missions as they kept track of Soviet submarines".
In chronological order, the book covers US submarine surveillance during the cold war beginning with the loss of the diesel submarine USS Cochino and ends with the post cold war secrecy problems still facing the families of lost submarine sailors on both sides. Narratives are given for several incidents such as the submarine USS Gudgeon being caught in Soviet waters and forced to the surface by the Soviets. A most intriguing chapter covers the 1968 loss of the US nuclear submarine Scorpion as it returned from a mission to the Mediterranean Sea. Using acoustic data, a submarine simulator and advanced mathematics, it took nearly five months for scientists to locate the Scorpion. Although the evidence points to an on board torpedo explosion, to this day the cause of the sub's lost is still in dispute.
Blind man's bluff involved tracking Soviet subs, surveillance of missile launches and communications monitoring. Soviet subs were trailed by US submarines to determine the submarine's characteristics, patrol areas plus Soviet Naval operational philosophy and tactics. The book contains a fascinating account of the USS Lapon tracking a Soviet missile sub for 47 days. However, tracking was dangerous. There were several underwater collisions, with the text describing the one where the USS Tautog collided with the Soviet submarine Black Lila.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on January 14, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a series of long vignettes about submarine spying and operations during the Cold War.
That these collections of stories are able to be told are a testament to the author's research and abilities to remove submariner's from their oaths of silence. The fact that they are writing about still classified events means Blind Man's Bluff lacks a central story line or continuous chronology. The authors could only relate those events that participants chose to disclose and describe. Thus, the book is very episodic as oppossed to being a neat history of the subject.
That being said, the stories are fascinating and moving. Thank a submariner the next time you run into one. These men risked (and still risk) a cold and silent demise in pursuit of their missions -- missions that contributed greatly to ensuring that the Soviets would not be tempted to go nuclear during the cold war due to our constant ability to keep ahead of their technology, strategy and tactics and general war fighting ability.
The stories are thrill rides of missions in Soviet waters, collissions between U.S. and Soviet subs, the loss of both Russian and American boats (with all hands), and close to shore cable tapping by our navy that is as breathtaking as anything Tom Clancy could dream up.
The authors do sometimes go overboard in their "breathless" writing as some of the other viewers write, but I found this only a minor annoyance. The stories of the men and machines themselves are the focus and the authors write them well.
(The only thing that nagged me through the book was the realization that so many of our naval personnel were willing to talk about events that they swore never to reveal. The authors do not spend much time on this issue.
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102 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Mark Hills on May 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Imagine if you will that you are onboard a US Navy submarine that has just snuck into Soviet territorial waters to spy on what the other side's navy is doing. From the sonar members of the crew can listen to the screw noise and learn turn counts that identify different Soviet Naval ships and submarines that are plying the seas around you. Your submarine-in this case the USS-Tautog (SSN-639) is here to gather intelligence on Soviet cruise missile submarines that could pose a threat to US carriers. Your captain, in this case Commander Buele G. Balderston drove his sub deeper into Petropavlovsk whereupon they collided with a Soviet Echo-II class attack boat. This was 1970, the half way point in the Cold War, one of three accidents that year, and all of them chronicled in Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew and Annette Lawrence-Drew's `Blind Man's Bluff-The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage'.
While the title may sound like some cheesy hack banged the book out and filled it with questionable information, `Blind Man's Bluff' takes the moderate approach, the authors admitting that sometimes the information is sketchy at times, and speculate on what probably happened, corroborating information from those directly involved aids in fleshing out the true stories told within the book. It details the disastrous first attempt to spy on the Soviets in 1949 when disaster struck the ill-fated USS-Cochino when one of it's batteries exploded, leaving the submarine to flounder in sixteen foot swells before eventually sinking off the coast of Norway. It's crew was rescued by her sister ship, the USS-Tusk, but not before six crewmen were killed-drowned in the stormy seas.
The book also talks at some length about Admiral Hyman G.
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