Blind Man's Bluff

  • by Sherry Sontag, Christopher Drew
  • Narrated by George Wilson
  • 15 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

No espionage missions have been kept more secret than those involving American submarines. Now, Blind Man's Bluff shows for the first time how the navy sent submarines wired with self-destruct charges into the heart of Soviet seas to tap crucial underwater telephone cables. It unveils how the navy's own negligence might have been responsible for the loss of the USS Scorpion, a submarine that disappeared, all hands lost, 30 years ago. It tells the complete story of the audacious attempt to steal a Soviet submarine with the help of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes and how it was doomed from the start. And it reveals how the navy used the comforting notion of deep-sea rescue vehicles to hide operations that were more James Bond than Jacques Cousteau.
Blind Man's Bluff contains an unforgettable array of characters, including the cowboy sub commander who brazenly outraced torpedoes and couldn't resist sneaking up to within feet of unaware enemy subs. It takes us inside clandestine Washington meetings where top submarine captains briefed presidents and where the espionage war was planned one sub and one dangerous encounter at a time. Stretching from the years immediately after World War II to the operations of the Clinton administration, it is an epic story of daring and deception. A magnificent achievement in investigative reporting, it feels like a spy thriller but with one important difference: Everything in it is true.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good history story

Enjoyed this book and some of the stories were eye opening and good to hear historical accounts of the submarine missions
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- Andrew P.

On These Battlefields, Warriors Whisper

I've been wanting to get this title on audio for ages and so snapped it up as soon as I came across it by accident during a search. As a submarine buff this is a "must have" book and even for those not so inclined this book sheds fascinating light on the covert and very secret spying and trailing missions during the Cold War.

The book covers the story of a different submarine and its crew and their involvement in the undercover missions in its own chapter which makes for a nice simple and logical structure. In addition, the events appear to be in chronological order as far as I can recall which also is useful.

There is a lot of information presented here and some of it I knew already, a lot of it I had no details on until reading this and a good portion was unknown to me. Of particular interest to me was the chapters covering the loss of the USS Scorpion and the recovery of the sunken Soviet Golf class submarine which I think was actually K-129 although, strangely, this book does not specify this. This recovery effort, referred to as Project Jennifer but also known as Project Azorian (not mentioned by the authors which would have been useful to clarify or connect the recovery effort to the official Jennifer project name) was perhaps the most audacious undertaking by the U.S Navy during the Cold War.

What I found useful in this book for the two incidents mentioned above was how the facts as related by the authors here go a long way in the case of the Scorpion tragedy to putting to rest the varied and very speculative books written about the loss of this submarine that suggest the theory that the Soviets sunk her. Although conspiracy theory books might seem more appealing and seductive to the imagination, they can often be platforms for the authors personal beliefs rather than based on available and verifiable facts. I was carried along by this a few years back and thought that maybe the Soviets did sink the Scorpion in retaliation for the loss of the aforementioned K-129 but upon reading the concise and logical chain of events and expert opinion set out so well, I am satisfied that the perhaps mundane but nonetheless most likely cause of the loss was to do with a defect in the Mk 37 torpedo battery.

The narrator did a decent job of reading this book but he did badly pronounce some of the Russian place names I noticed. That very minor gripe withstanding, the narration was excellent.

As ever with me in my nit picking nature, I did spot an error in the Appendix A, I think it was where the hull number of the USS Sam Houston was misquoted. Again, perhaps only a submarine geek like me might notice such a mistake but I just had to point that tiny detail out.

Now, what I want to know is when there is going to be a follow up book! Almost two decades has passed since the publication of this book and so I imagine there is plenty of material waiting to be unearthed for a second instalment. Incidentally, there is an interview with one of the authors at the end of the book which is a nice bonus and interesting and insightful.

Blind Mans Bluff is a prime example of how fact can be so much more amazing than fiction and if you had no real idea what went on during the Cold War with respect to the underwater spying game then this book will be a huge and exciting eye opener to you.

Well written in a compelling narrative style, I highly recommend it.

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- S. Morris

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-08-2016
  • Publisher: HarperAudio