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Blind Man's Bluff

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, ingenuity, courage, and disaster beneath the sea, a story filled with unforgettable characters who engineered daring missions to tap the enemy's underwater communications cables and to shadow Soviet submarines. It is a story of heroes and spies, of bravery and tragedy.
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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. (Nov.)

Journalists Sontag and Drew have strung together about a dozen investigative pieces on submarine espionage activities during the Cold War era. The stories are exciting, the personalities border on the eccentric, and the constant turf battles among various U.S. government agencies in these often top-secret submarine activities make for intriguing reading. Have you ever wondered what it must be like to stalk a Soviet sub armed to the teeth with nuclear missles? Or serve on a U.S. sub in Russian waters with Soviet antisubmarine ships using you for target practice? While these true-life stories are exciting, much of the book is actually an account of how the CIA, U.S. Navy, Congress, and other agencies all used the American submarine force to further their own political ends. While not packing the literary punch or style of Edward L. Beach's World War II naval classic Run Silent, Run Deep, this is hard-core investigative reporting at its crispest. Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries.‘Stephen W. Green, Auraria Lib., Denver

"Brilliant . . . Full of hair-raising stories of men in peril under the sea."-- "Wall Street Journal""With materials combed from newspaper reports, American and Soviet archives, and the testimonies of officers and servicemen that could come forward only with the end of the Cold War, "Blind Man's Bluff" looks at one of the hottest theaters of that era--the ocean depths, and how submarines have been used by both the navy and the CIA to gather intelligence and launch covert operations . . ." -- "Kirkus Reviews, " starred review"A compelling study of magnificent men and spying machines."-- "New York Times Book Review""A long overdue, well deserved tribute to those unsung heroes of the U.S. Navy's ?silent service' with whom I was privileged to serve."-- Lt. Cmdr. Roy H. Boehm, USN (ret.), creator of the U.S. Navy Seal Teams and author of "First Seal""A real-life "Hunt For Red October.""-- "New York Times""From page one, it reads like a novel. How they uncovered all this stuff is remarkable."-- Don Imus"The most comprehensive look at the work of these intrepid sailors . . . A celebration of their ingenuity and valor."-- "Baltimore Sun"Reads like an adventure novel, but it's all to real."-- Seyour M. Hersh, author of "The Dark Side of Camelot"The veterans of the 'Silent Service' are silent no more."-- John Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy, "Wall Street Journal

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