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Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S. Hardcover – September 13, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 166 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Reads like the latest Tom Clancy thriller....Fascinating...frightening."
-- The Flint Journal

"Frightening....As exciting as any novel."
-- The Associated Press

"A remarkable account [from] a veteran submariner."
-- Bookspan
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Kenneth R. Sewell is a nuclear engineer and a U.S. Navy veteran who spent five years aboard the USS Parche, a fast attack submarine that was the Navy's most decorated ship. Parche conducted a number of special operations, some of which were revealed in Blind Man's Bluff. Since leaving the Navy, Mr. Sewell has held both Department of Defense and Department of Energy security clearances. In researching Red Star Rogue, Mr. Sewell had access to recently declassified intelligence files in the U.S. and Soviet military archives that were opened after 1991, among other sources. A New York Times bestseller, Red Star Rogue has been optioned for film by Warner Brothers.

Clint Richmond is a veteran journalist and author based in Austin, Texas. His book Selena!, about the murder of the legendary Tejana singer, was a #1 bestseller. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1St Edition edition (September 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743261127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743261128
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Red Star Rogue", written by Kenneth Sewell and Clint Richmond, examines one of the most intriguing incidents of the Cold War. This was the loss of the Soviet Golf II class ballistic missile submarine (SSB) K-129, and the subsequent examination and recovery of the wreck by the United States. Previous books that have examined this incident include Clyde Burleson's 1977 "The Jennifer Project", and the CIA sanctioned story of the recovery in the 1978 "A Matter of Risk" by Roy Varner and Wayne Collier. Additional information can be gleaned from chapters in the books "Blind Man's Bluff" (Sontag & Drews), Dr. Roger Dunham's "Spy Sub", and John P. Craven's "The Silent War". In this new book, Sewell and Richmond take advantage of the opportunity to conduct research within the former Soviet Union, and to interview those involved or affected on both sides of the story. However, they end up with a sensationalist scenario to explain the intense interest the American government took in an obsolete, sunken diesel powered ballistic missile submarine.

Sewell claims to have uncovered previously unknown facts about the rapid resupply and hasty departure of the K-129 from its base on the Kamchatka Pennisula, and "extra" last minute crew additions. The basic thesis of this book is that the submarine was part of a secret plot by an inner "cabal" within the highest levels of Soviet Government (centered around Mikhail Suslov and Yuri Andropov), hidden from Premier Leonid Brezhnev. The plot was to have K-129 emulate a Chinese Golf I submarine (an earlier transfer from the USSR before the split with China) and launch a one megaton nuclear missile toward Pearl Harbor.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Sewell has compiled an interesting set of half-truths, conjecture and outright fabrications interspersed with some Soviet operational procedures and human-interest details to advance a frightening scenario that a rogue Soviet submarine attempted to launch a nuclear missile at Pearl Harbor. Mr. Sewell has taken advantage of the recent spate of books about cold war submarine activities to publish his version of a specific event, no doubt to his financial benefit. One sentence from John Craven's book "The Silent War" i.e. "there existed a possibility, small though it might be, that the skipper of this rogue submarine was attempting to launch or had actually launched a ballistic missile with a live warhead in the direction of Hawaii." is the basis of his doomsday premise. He take this conditional conjecture, throws in a cabal of high level KGB conspirators, and hatches an almost 300 page book of fiction. The central thesis behind his assertion of a rogue launch is his claim that the sub went down at 163º W Lon, 24º N Lat. This is critical since the K-129 was armed with three SS-N-5 Serb missiles with a range of approximately 760 nautical miles. Since the sub actually sank at 180º Lon, 40º N Lat, which is more that 1500 nautical miles distant from Pearl Harbor, it would be more than 800 nautical miles short of the presumed target. At Sewell's claimed site, which is totally false, Pearl Harbor would be within range of the missiles.

As a senior staff engineer, now retired, with the Ocean System Division of Lockheed Missiles and Space Co., I was the responsible engineer for the Digital Data Link (DDL) which provided commands to, and telemetry from, the "claw", which we designated the Capture Vehicle (CV), and the control van on the Hughes Glomar Explorer (HGE).
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
First, I want to say that I really, really wanted to like this book. I really did. But there were so many factual problems with it, that I can't take it seriously.

First and foremost, the author mentions on several pages that the explosion aboard K-129 was monitored by a US early warning satellite. The problem with this is that according to "Guardians, Strategic Reconnaissance Satellites" by Curtis Peebles (Presidio Press, 1987. ISBN 0-89141-284-0), a comprehensive work on intelligence satellites from the beginning until 1985, there were no early warning satellites in operation in March 1968, when K-129 went down. The low orbit MIDAS follow-up program was cancelled in 1966 (due to problems with coverage and false alarms), and Project 949, its geosynchronous replacement, wasn't launched until August of 1968. So, it couldn't have been been monitored, because we didn't have the capability at the time K-129 sank.

Also, Sewell claims that the sailing was timed to prevent it from being detected by photoreconaissance satellites, but again we run into an issue: At the time, *ALL* US photorecon satellites were 'film return' types. In other words, they imaged what they saw directly on to film, and when they were done they returned that film back to Earth to be developed and interpreted. After they ejected the film, they were essentially useless. Referring back to "Guardians" again, we find that the Russians didn't have to try very hard to evade them: Launch 1968-5 was on January 18th, and had a lifetime of 17 days. That put the return back on February 5th. K-129 sailed on February 24th. The next US launch wasn't until March 13th, almost a week after K-129 sank.
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