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Hunter Killers: The Dramatic Untold Story of the Royal Navy's Most Secret Service Paperback – 21 Aug 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (21 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409139018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409139010
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 3.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Ballantyne has spent time at sea in most types of warship, from nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, to destroyers and frigates. Past assignments as a writer have also taken him from the frozen wastes of the Arctic to minefields in poisoned waters off war-torn Kuwait and even on a brief foray into the Bosnian war zone.

Iain was one of a select few journalists aboard the carrier HMS Ark Royal when the pilot of a Sea Harrier shot down over the Balkans was rescued by Special Forces and returned to the ship.

More recently, Iain was aboard a Royal Navy frigate during a NATO counter-terrorism exercise in the Mediterranean and the same year (2008) visited US Navy and British warships facing down the Iranian and Al-Qaeda threat in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

Aside from being aboard the frigate HMS London (in 1991) when she was nearly hit by a practice torpedo launched by a Soviet submarine, during his visits to the USSR in its dying days Iain also came across a previously secret Russian prototype submarine at Balaclava in the Crimea. His report and photographs of the vessel when published were a world first.

During other Russian forays Iain twice visited the Kronstadt naval base (a restricted area). One memorable interview session with a Russian admiral involved 16 vodka toasts to 'the beautiful women of the world.'

In 2007, Iain's work in the maritime arena was saluted with a Special Recognition Award from the British Maritime Charitable Foundation (BMCF), for making 'a consistent and unwavering contribution to raising maritime awareness over the years'.

In addition to being founding (and current) Editor of the global naval news magazine WARSHIPS IFR (1998 - Present) and HPC Publishing's popular 'Guide to the Royal Navy' (2002 - Present) Iain continues to write for newspapers and other magazines.

His input for several years also infused and informed stories on naval affairs in the Sunday Telegraph and most recently (2014) in the Sunday Times.

In 2010 Iain's WW2 era book, 'Killing the Bismarck' won a Mountbatten Maritime Award for best literary contribution Certificate of Merit.

The citation, by a distinguished panel of judges, declared 'Killing the Bismarck' to be 'a book of intense drama, compiled with painstaking accuracy and vividly portrayed through the meticulous accumulation of first-hand witness accounts' to make it 'authoritative and compelling.'

Iain is an Associate Member of the HMS Warspite Association. His first book (published 2001) was a profile of the legendary battleship Warspite, primarily told through the experiences of her sailors and marines in two world wars, but also including a look at the exploits of the nuclear-powered submarine of the same name.

In June 2014, in recognition of his work on behalf of naval history, and in particular telling the story of Cold War submarines and submarines, Iain was presented with an award during a special 'HMS Warspite and Buddies in Boats Reunion' at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.

His other books include 'H.M.S. London' which told the story of British warships to carry that names since the 17th Century, including the Type 22 frigate that was at one time commanded by Vice Admiral Sir Tim McClement.

Iain Ballantyne's latest book, 'Hunter Killers' (published by Orion), is the first work to tell the truth behind several dangerous episodes in the covert undersea confrontation between British and Soviet submarines and their crews during the Cold War.

Product Description

Review

an exciting, thought-provoking and very instructive book, most strongly recommended (SCUTTLEBUTT)

Ballantyne has written an excellent book, presenting many exciting and never before told stories from British submariners who served during the Cold War...it is surely one of the most enthralling of Cold War submarine thrillers. (Cem Devrim Yaylali WARSHIPS INTERNATIONAL FLEET REVIEW)

Ballantyne has persuaded former submarine captains to share not only their stories about life aboard what German wartime submariners called "iron coffins", but also some of the largely unknown details of their deployment, including their crucial role in the Cold War. (DAILY EXPRESS)

I've found no other book that delves so comprehensively into the underwater battle space during those tense years. (Julian Stockwin Author of The Kydd Series)

Book Description

HUNTER KILLER: a submarine designed to pursue and attack enemy submarines and surface ships using torpedoes.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr G.H. Bennett on 1 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Iain Ballantyne, Hunter Killers: The Dramatic Untold Story of the Royal Navy's Most Secret Service, Orion, London, 2013.

The impact of the cold war on the quest for mastery in outerspace has long fascinated authors, journalists and film makers. No less dramatic was the cold war struggle for the inner space of the ocean depths from 1945 to 1991. This story, like the submarines and submariners that wrote it, remained invisible during the cold war years. The Royal Navy's silent service lived up to its reputation for silence and efficiency. Using a range of sources, including interviews with key protagonists, Iain Ballantyne's book brings to the surface the story of the Royal Navy's submarine force during the cold war years.
Ballantyne has quite a story to tell from deadly games of cat and mouse in the Baltic and the Barents Sea to operations under the Arctic ice cap. Stealthy missions to eavesdrop on ship radar emissions, weapons tests and Soviet naval exercises are punctuated by near misses and not so near misses. Ballantyne charts a series of incidents when, even in the coldest of northern seas, the cold war could have got hot as Royal Navy submarines were pursued with potentially lethal force by Soviet forces. The book's revelations are sure to send a shiver down the spines of those of us who lived through the cold war unaware of the dramas taking place 100 to a thousand meters below the surface of the sea.
Ballantyne has done a lot of detective work to piece the story together, but his real art as a writer lies in the way he engages the reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 18 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well written and researched book with few errors. Some great interviews and like others who have reviewed the book and like me were on cold war op's on hunter killers the background makes more sense of the foreground we were involved in.

Cold war patrols were never fun but the professionalism of the crews on RN Submarines was second to none, the captains the best in the world. They got us in and out in one piece. This books tells those stories beautifully. It also goes to explain why submariners will always be submariners even 30 years after leaving the mob.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. David J. Gregory on 20 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Iain Ballantyne has written a thoroughly enlightening account of what was really happening behind the bland official news releases of the Cold War. As someone who served in the Royal Navy during that period, and who was actively involved in surface fleet operations in the North Atlantic/Barentz/Arctic Sea regions, this book is a complete revelation in its description of the various submarine activities going on at the same time. We all knew that these 'initiatives' were being pursued, but had little clear idea of the real war conditions under which these patrols were made, and the dangers faced by the crews of the participating boats. Ballantyne has sensibly threaded his account into some of the personal histories of selected key personnel of the era. It makes for a fascinating read. This is proper and instructive history, written whilst living witnesses are still vibrant and opinionated.

David Gregory
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By christopher chapman on 9 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I actually served on diesel boats and an SSBN during the cold war and found the book riveting!! The political reviews filled in gaps in my knowledge and I can now understand why we did what we did. A must read for anyone who is interested in submarines
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By alan Trafford on 16 Nov. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a mid 50's to early 60's submariner I was pleased to see the contribution we made in the cold war revealed for perhaps the first time. There were some trivial innacuracies for example David Bingham was on the Super T Totem not Tiptoe, I was on it at the time, and my recollection was his sentence was thirty years, perhaps he only served twenty one. Also the Super T's which were converted WW2 boats had the reputation of being the quietest submarines in the world well into the late fifties. That probably deserved a mention as it illustrates how clever the UK were in meeting the challenge when almost broke and in fact doing a similar job with clapped out WW2 destroyers turning them into probably the best anti submarine Frigates of the same period.
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By Mr. Ian J. Atkinson on 21 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback
After a slow start, explaining the origins of the cold war, this book delivered in spades. Personally, I have served in the Royal Navy for over 32 years including 25 years in submarines, so I bought the book both in hardback and also on kindle, pretty much out of curiosity to see if the author 'had got it right'. Surprisingly, for a non-submariner, he is incredibly well informed and probably stops just short of actually divulging secrets about our silent service. As a purist, I did notice a couple of minor errors, but these were few and far between and probably unnoticeable unless the reader has intimate knowledge of the workings of a nuclear submarine. A very interesting and enjoyable read. Ian Atkinson (Author of 32 Years Man & Buoy)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R Watkinson on 10 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read several Iain Ballantyne books- but this in my opinion is his best. An excellent book, which has been thoroughly researched. What I particularly liked, is the fact that as a 'baby boomer' generation, I grew up in the Cold War....and I never knew that Royal Navy submarines had such an important role tracking the soviets.
My only regret is that i did not joint the Navy!
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