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We Come Unseen: The Untold Story of Britain's Cold War Submariners [Hardcover]

Jim Ring
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 July 2001
From the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the threat of a nuclear Armageddon was an everyday reality. The front line of what Churchill called the balance of terror was the submarine forces whose missiles were targeted on the world's cities. Hundreds of feet beneath the waves, these leviathans vied for supremacy that could mean global dominance - or destruction. Alongside them worked the attack submarines, tasked wtih finding the missile submarines and - in time of war - with destroying them.;Hitherto, on this side of the Atlantic, little more than hints of this remarkable tale have come to light. Now, granted exclusive access to its leading submarine commanders by the Royal Navy, Jim Ring tells the full story from its beginnings. With more than a side-glance at the Falklands War, the book culminates in the submarine operations of the Reagan-Thatcher Star Wars era that finally crushed Soviet hopes of victory at sea. In the words of Sir John Coward, Flag Officer Submarines: There was a war and we won it.;This book is as much about personnel as operations, and it follows the careers of six submarine commanders from their early days at Dartmouth to their remarkable escapades in the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Norwegian and the Barents Seas. It provides a fascinating insight into the sort of men trained and prepared - literally - to press the nuclear button, who in the end gave us peace in our time. They are the more than worthy successors to Churchill's Few.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; first edition (5 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719556902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719556906
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,025,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'A welcome acknowledgement of one of the Cold War's little-known aspects' (Alan Judd, Sunday Telegraph )

About the Author

Jim Ring's debut study of the Irish patriot Erskine Childers won the Marsh prize for biography. His second book, "How the English Made the Alps," the story of pioneer English alpinists, was published in 2000.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WE COME UNSEEN - A SUBMARINERS PERSPECTIVE 1 Aug 2002
By F BRIMS
Format:Hardcover
As a submariner, this book is a welcome insight into the previously secret world of submarines and the cold war. It appears that due to on-going national security, this lacks the details and background of some other good submarine books such as 'Blind Man's Bluff', but this does not in any way detract from this well researched and factually accurate piece. It provides a gritty appreciation into the demands and huge responsibility that belies being a submariner, and achieving the ultimate responsibility of Command.
Written cleverly to follow the lives of several young officers through their careers this book also provides a succinct, but detailed overview of major events and historical moments in the cold war.
This is well worth a read for anyone interested in submarine history or the cold war as this provides a unique perspective of the British contribution to these times. Don't hold your breath for Tom Clancy-style underwater epic tales though!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The undersea Cold War. 16 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a great read for anyone like me, who was involved in this dangerous cat and mouse game. An eye opener for the British public.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cold War Warriors 22 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a very specialised book about service in submarines during the Cold War. The book charts the progress of a group of young officers through training to Command of various Royal Navy submarines. It gives an amusing and interesting account of the careers of the main players but does not give a great insight into Cold War operations due in the main to security issues.

It is a good read for submariners of that generation that know the officers concerned but would be also of interest to the casual reader as it does give an honest insight into submarine life as we would know it today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Looks OK so far 27 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In submariner's circles, this book was billed as the UK equivalent to Blind Man's Bluff. The latter is brilliant and I couldn't put it down. However, though I have yet to read it, We Come Unseen seems to be light on Cold War exploits, so the equivalence is questionable. I notice some more books on Amazon which I might just get for birthday/Christmas!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different View of Cold War Submarine Operations 21 Dec 2004
By C. Ryan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"We Come Unseen" has been referred to as the British version of "Blind Man's Bluff," but it is really a different sort of book. "We Come Unseen" exposes less previously classified material than its American counterpart and provides far less detail about the British submarine service's classified Cold War reconnaissance missions. Rather it provides an overview of the Royal Navy's submarine operations from the 1960s to the early 1990s by tracing the careers of six Royal Navy officers as they rise from Midshipman to submarine captains and, in some cases, on to Flag rank.

In following their careers we learn about training philosophy and living conditions in the Royal Navy and some of their submarine operations in the Atlantic related the countering the Soviet navy; the development and deployment of Britain's SSBN nuclear deterrent; and operations in Malaysia and elsewhere as the British withdrew from East of Suez.

The most extensive operational descriptions are about the 1982 Falklands War. According to the author the Argentine Navy prematurely launched its attack on the Falklands, to their disadvantage and the U.K.'s advantage, when a Royal Navy SSN made an unscheduled departure from Gibraltar. The Argentinians interpreted that event as a sortie to confront them in the South Atlantic, but it actually involved responding to a Soviet action in the North Atlantic. The stalking and sinking of the (former U.S. Navy) heavy cruiser General Belgrano by HMS Conqueror is covered in detail as are other important contributions by RN SSNs such as surveillance of Argentine airfields to provide early warning of impending air strikes on the British fleet. There is a tantalizingly brief description of an RN SSK's (diesel-powered submarine) epic 100+ day roundtrip patrol from the UK to Argentina related to commando insertion operations. The highlight of RN ASW operations is the destruction - in a surface action - of the Argentinian submarine Santa Fe (former USS Catfish).

There are 14 pages of black and white photos; an appendix listing of all RN submarines commissioned since 1958 (but no decommissioning dates); a list of all RN "Flag Officer Submarines" from 1946-2001; a three-page bibliography and an 11-page (really small print!) index.

"We Come Unseen" is highly recommended to anyone interested in Cold War and other late-Twentieth Century submarine and naval history, the Royal Navy or Cold War politics and military strategy. Unfortunately for the curious, author Jim Ring doesn't divulge as much classified information as Sonntag and Drew did in "Blind Man's Bluff" (an SSBN captain asserted to me two years ago that a lot of the classified information in the later was initially divulged to the authors by a member of Congress...).
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