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Hostile Waters Hardcover – July, 1997

44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

During the Cold War, Soviet nuclear submarines tirelessly patrolled the Atlantic. Their missiles took aim at Washington, New York, and other major American cities. But they were also fairly low-tech contraptions, at least in comparison to the sophisticated U.S. subs that quietly tracked them. In 1986, one of these Soviet vessels nearly suffered a meltdown not far from Bermuda in what might have been a worse-than-Chernobyl accident. Hostile Waters tells this story more like a novel than a textbook, but also makes good use of declassified material and personal interviews. In his brief foreword, Tom Clancy calls it "one of the most fascinating true submarine stores I have ever encountered"--high praise from the man who brought us The Hunt for Red October.

From Booklist

A U.S. naval officer, a Russian naval officer, and a thriller writer joined forces to produce this dramatic account of the 1986 fire aboard K-219, a Soviet ballistic missile submarine, and its sinking off Bermuda. Those events have received some previous coverage, but the book goes into far more detail, depicting a classic battle of men against the sea in which a young engineer sacrificed his life to prevent a seagoing Chernobyl and the Soviet captain scuttled the submarine rather than have his crew ordered back aboard. In the best Hunt for Red October manner, the U.S. Navy is depicted as endangering the survivors in an effort to acquire K-219, and, indeed, the Soviets receive most of the book's attention and sympathy. The book's novel-like form raises the question, How much has been fictionalized or at least reconstructed to make it read--immensely successfully--like a thriller? Enough, at any rate, to entice HBO into making a TV movie of it, premiering this summer. Roland Green

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (July 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312169280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312169282
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Chapulina R on September 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Down three thousand fathoms deep, Deaths of millions in her keep; With her, in eternal sleep -- Sergei Preminin." With these words begins Russell Hoban's poem immortalizing an extraordinary deed of an ordinary Russian submariner. "Hostile Waters" also recounts Seaman Preminin's selfless sacrifice, which saved the lives of countless unsuspecting Americans. But this is only one of the riveting episodes of desperation and courage chronicled in this true story about a doomed nuclear submarine. Authors USN-AWS Capt. (ret.) Huchthausen and Soviet Capt. 1st. Rank Kurdin were participants in the ongoing Cold War events which led to the tragedy of K-219. Written with the assistance of accomplished novelist Robin A. White ("Siberian Light", "Ice Curtain"), their book reads like a spellbinding adventure of disaster and heroism on the sea. In 1986, the Soviet Navy, in its futile attempts to match its superior American counterpart, was sending its fleet of obsolete boomers to patrol the eastern coast of the US. Capt. Igor Britanov knew that his noisy, decrepit boat was being tracked from the moment she left her home port, and that once in American waters, he was being shadowed by a state-of-the-art hunter-killer. Following an unintentional collision by the USS Augusta, K-219 sustained severe damage which left her flooding and burning, with an open missile-hatch, on the surface. In a cascading chain of catastrophe, her nuclear reactor began to overheat. As the US military went on DEFCON alert, K-219 foundered in her desperate and dangerous death-throes. You, the reader, will intimately experience the Soviet crew's minute-by-minute struggle for survival.Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John P. Rooney on December 19, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Hostile Waters", by Peter Huchthausen, Igor Kurdin and R. Alan White. Thorndike Press, Thorndike, Maine, Large type edition, 1997.
An excellent book, dealing with the loss of the K-219, a Soviet Nuclear submarine, off the east coast of the United States. This book is non-fiction but it reads like a fast moving, modern day thrill novel, thanks, probably, to the efforts of author R. Alan White. The book also reads like a "you are there!" recitation of the events of the sinking, undoubtedly due to the efforts of Igor Kurdin, of the Russian Navy. Finally, there are some pointed comments about higher-level actions and reactions, probably due to the efforts of Captain Peter Huchthausen, USN, Retired. It is impressive that three different writers from such disparate backgrounds could produce a book that is such a well-written story of the events in the sinking of the K-219. It all comes together in such an interesting fashion that it was difficult to put the book down.
As we watch the world react to the aftermath of September 11 2001, we wonder why the CIA and the FBI did not have better communications with each other agency. The provincialism and secrecy of the USN submarine service is well documented in this book. In some ways, this is a theme of this book; rivalry between service branches and within each service hinders cooperation and communications. On page 225, for example, you can find: the U.S. Navy's "... number one enemy: the United Sates Air Force". Personally, I can recall working as reliability engineer on a small Navy project in 1987, and I referenced an Air Force document as substantiation for my calculations. I was told, "Wrong color blue". Navy Blue versus Air Force blue.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Through my work as Exec. Asst. to the Exec. Dir. of the Navy League of the U.S., I met member Peter Huchthausen when he introduced Igor Kurdin to the NLUS as an associate member. I became their liaison. Through this I have worked with young hero Sergei Preminin's high-school teacher, who created a small museum to his heroism. Then on 8/4/97 at a dinner in his honor at the Officers Club of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, I was privileged to be seated at the head table with and to meet the brave Russian sub commander, Igor Britanov, who saved our East Coast from a Chernobyl, and probably thus headed off WWIII. I was honored to be made a member of the St. Petersburg Club of Sailors and Submariners that evening. Peter Huchthausen did painstaking research, as did his coauthor Igor Kurdin to create this book. It is riveting, utterly compelling, heart-wrenching, and true. Although I have read it three times and highlighted much, plus viewing the HBO slightly-altered and less grippingly true rendition, I still weep for these brave men. This is the sign of a well-written book! It captures vividly the heart and soul of these men, and what they courageously endured. To read of them and meet them in person is to love them for their bravery and decency. I have never seen a face radiate more goodness than Captain Britanov's. I highly recommend this book to everyone I engage in conversation on the subject. I only wish that it had received much more publicity, in hard and soft cover.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By on May 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A compelling account of a tragic accident and the loss of a USSR K219 submarine in the sea of Bermuda during the cold-war era. What makes this book so powerful is the contrast of courage and cowardness, responsibility and indifference, hostility and friendship among the participants of this story. The only complaint I have is I don't understand why this book had to be written in a Clancy kind of style (I mean if it is a "real" story), but I guess people's opinions would vary on that.
I wish Mr.Britanov, his colleagues and their families stay well. They tell me while the quality of the regime could vary vastly, there can be always heroic people with extraordinary courage no matter where.
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