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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: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (21 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409139018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409139010
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.3 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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More About the Author

Iain Ballantyne has spent time in most types of warship, from nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers, to destroyers and frigates. Past assignments as a writer have taken him from the Arctic to minefields off war-torn Kuwait and into the Bosnian war zone.

He reported on patrols by British commandos in Ulster's 'Bandit Country' during The Troubles and also from Berlin as special guest of the German government at a time when it was working hard to persuade the world that reunification was a good idea.

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.

In the early 1990s Iain also flew aboard a US Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier during flying operations off Libya - experiencing the full 'cats and traps' roller-coaster ride. He also accompanied Royal Marines on fast boat anti-smuggling patrols off Hong Kong prior to the 1997 hand over of the former British colony to China.

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 threat in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

Aside from being aboard the frigate HMS London when she was nearly hit by a torpedo launched by a Soviet submarine in 1991, 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 forays into Russia Iain was allowed full access to the Kirov Works in St. Petersburg, which had manufactured Soviet T34 tanks during WW2 and secret military technology during the Cold War, also twice visiting 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 1992 Iain was one of two writers spearheading an evening newspaper series on the industrial-naval city of Plymouth as it struggled to recover from post-Cold War defence cuts. His work played a pivotal role in securing the Evening Herald a top prize in the UK newspaper industry's national awards. The Evening Herald was named National Community Newspaper of the Year.

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 naval news magazine WARSHIPS International Fleet Review, Iain continues to write for newspapers as well as magazines. His input for several years also infused and informed stories on naval affairs in the Sunday Telegraph and most recently in the Sunday Times.

Iain's books have been published by Orion, Pen & Sword and the US Naval Institute Press. In 2010 Iain's WW2 era book, 'Killing the Bismarck' (Pen & Sword), was awarded a 'Mountbatten Certificate of Merit' by a distinguished panel of judges who paid fulsome tribute to its qualities. Iain is an Associate Member of the HMS Warspite Association, a profile of the legendary battleship having been his first proper naval history book.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 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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6 of 6 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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4 of 4 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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2 of 2 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. F. Dutton 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 Kieran McCarry on 17 Dec 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having been one of those cold war submariners I thought this book was excellent ...... it gives a good amount of detail without being too caught up in small issues...... following the careers of a group of people was a great idea !

The research done is good --- and the book is an easy read

Overall I would say it gives a good insight into a world that many are completely unaware of
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dolphin on 3 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book gave an interesting account of some of the behind the scenes activities of our submarine force
A first class read
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Byron Geoffrey Farrow on 2 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A gripping review of Royal Navy submarine operations (focused on the Hunter Killers, but covering SSBN operations as well) from the 50s to the end of the Cold War. With a comprehensive epilogue and telling many stories that needed to be told (many only rumours until now) this is an essential text for all interested in this topic.
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