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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a techno-thriller
Well researched, a really good historical work and yet so readable it is better than most techno-thrillers. Even if you have little knowledge of, or interest in, submarines this book is a fascinating one. 'Blind Man's Bluff' opens the door on one of the few areas of the Cold War where contact between the superpowers (and the UK) was regular and sometimes...
Published on 19 Feb 2006 by AggroTheAnalyst

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read for the uninitiated.
This book offered to illuminate a very dark and secret area of the military. This it did, but the emphasis was on US action, with only passing mention to the other Navies around the globe. It provides interesting insight into what the sleek, black bringers of death do when they disappear from sight. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to find out what the US Navy...
Published on 17 Jun 2000


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than a techno-thriller, 19 Feb 2006
By 
AggroTheAnalyst (The 'Diff, Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blind Mans Bluff: The Untold Story of Cold War Submarine Espionage (Paperback)
Well researched, a really good historical work and yet so readable it is better than most techno-thrillers. Even if you have little knowledge of, or interest in, submarines this book is a fascinating one. 'Blind Man's Bluff' opens the door on one of the few areas of the Cold War where contact between the superpowers (and the UK) was regular and sometimes physical (radar intrusion and reconnaisance flights being the other). 'The Hunt For Red October' is a great read but this book recounts operations just as incredible and dangerous, the difference being that here they actually happened. A great read.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of the subs that helped us win the Cold War, 12 Jun 2004
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
It is hard to overstate the singularity and importance of this book. Blind Man's Bluff, as the subtitle says, truly is The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage. Before the research of writers Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew (with Annette Lawrence Drew) culminated in the publishing of this book, the stories of hundreds of submariners, true heroes one and all, had been shrouded in the secrecy borne of the Cold War. Many men aged and died without ever telling their wives and children what they did during their tours of duty; many family members never knew exactly how and why their loved ones never came home; many survivors have only now learned, thanks to this book, the exact nature of the missions they took part in, having never been privy to that information during their service. According to the authors, many of these men and their families have thanked them in quite emotional terms for finally telling their stories. The submariners of the United States Navy helped win the Cold War, and they deserve the heroic recognition they dutifully earned in service to their country.
This book basically takes the reader through the secret history of submarine intelligence missions over the course of the Cold War years and beyond. Many of these tales prove once again that truth is oftentimes stranger than fiction. Triumph and tragedy abound. The book also serves as a primer of sorts for the history of the Cold War; the interplay between different American administrations, naval chiefs and admirals, larger-than-life sub captains, and brilliant civilian naval administrators immerses you in the full scope of military planning, action, reaction, and sometimes overreaction. The biggest mistakes that were made all seem to fall in the lap of admirals and high-ranking naval officers and administrators, and these mistakes put many lives in danger and caused a number of unnecessary deaths. The dangerous obstinacy of government bureaucracy is a problem we continue to deal with today.
Submarines fulfilled innumerable intelligence-gathering missions during the decades after World War II. Subs infiltrated Russian waters to glean data about Soviet hardware, missile technology, and military behavior patterns; they secretly tailed all manner of Soviet subs across the oceans in order to identify each type of craft by the slightest of sounds and to learn the practices and tendencies of Soviet sub commanders (helping to ensure that the Soviets would be hard pressed to ever launch a massive nuclear first- or second-strike via the sea); they searched for valuable military hardware (both American and Soviet) along the ocean floor; and they brought home some of the most critical intelligence findings imaginable.
Among the more remarkable stories detailed here are the Navy's successful attempts to locate a lost Soviet nuclear sub (which the CIA later attempted - embarrassingly unsuccessfully - to salvage from the bottom of the ocean), the mysterious loss of the US sub Scorpion (along with new information that would seem to finally explain the cause of the tragedy), and the collision of an American sub with one of its Soviet counterparts (just one of a surprising number of such collisions). Perhaps the most fascinating account to be found in Blind Man's Bluff is America's secret tapping of Soviet military cables underneath the sea off Okhotsk and in the Barents Strait. Submarines made a number of undetected trips to the discovered cables, hiding in relatively shallow waters literally just beneath the Soviet navy's very nose for days at a time, to collect and replace recorded tapes that gave Naval Intelligence an unprecedented look at Soviet plans and capabilities as well as crucial insight into the Soviet military psyche itself.
You will meet some incredible heroes and brilliant intellectuals in this book: men such as John Craven, Commander Whitey Mack, Admiral Bobby Inman, and Tommy Cox, a would-be country singer who immortalized the deeds of his fellow submariners (and memorialized those who didn't make it back home) in song. Then there are John A. Walker, Jr. and Ronald W. Pelton, two of the worst traitors in American history. Walker spent eighteen years building a spy ring that turned over an immense number of secrets to the Soviets for less than one million dollars, while Pelton informed the Soviets of the Okhotsk cable tap for a mere $35,000. These men put the lives of hundreds of brave submariners at risk, greatly compromising their nation's security in the process, and will stand forever among the most infamous of American traitors.
If you want to know what peril under the sea can really mean, read the amazing accounts chronicled in Blind Man's Bluff. America's submariners played a crucial role in our nation's defense for decades, but only now are their stories being told. It is a secret history more thrilling than that borne of the imaginations of the best military science fiction writers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read for the uninitiated., 17 Jun 2000
By A Customer
This book offered to illuminate a very dark and secret area of the military. This it did, but the emphasis was on US action, with only passing mention to the other Navies around the globe. It provides interesting insight into what the sleek, black bringers of death do when they disappear from sight. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to find out what the US Navy got up to during the Cold War that was never publicised in Britain. If you have any knowledge of these missions, however, you may be disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars too many disasters, too little espionage, 24 April 1999
By A Customer
Half the book is on underwater disasters. While horrible and unfortunate, it has little effect on national security concerns. I felt that the title of the book is a little misleading as I expecting just espionage achievements of the USN.
The espionage that is revealed in the book, you could describe in a few paragraphs. Most of it has been disclosed in other articles/books. I agree with the other reviewer, the PBS TV program was the right format for the information provided (one hour is sufficient). I guess much of this topic is still classified (as some of the other reviewers seem to know).
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite a unique book, 3 Jan 2003
By 
T. Matthews "word worm" (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Blind Mans Bluff: The Untold Story of Cold War Submarine Espionage (Paperback)
Whilst owning a large library of books covering the Cold War period, I cannot recall another volume that covers the espionage role of submarines in such interesting, fascinating detail.
This book uncovers new tales and fleshes out details of other previously encountered stories. The research behind the stories is impressive, as is the level of access the authors seem to have obtained.
This book conveys an objective view of both countries activities during the period and doesn't suffer from the propaganda trap many other works suffer. However, it focuses more on the American escapades, probably due to Soviet secrecy hangovers.
The only slight disappointment is that this book covers a relatively small number of tales. However, this is balanced by the superb detail of each piece.
I can certainly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rickover WAS a ruthless empire builder. So what?, 3 Sep 1999
By A Customer
I was there in the 70s, and enjoyed reading this book. The Admiral was indeed ruthless, and he was also pretty eccentric. But the fleet of nuclear reactors his organization built and operated still has the best nuclear safety record on the planet. This is because he required us all to understand what we were dealing with and take Murphy's Law to heart: "If a piece of equipment CAN be operated in a particular way, then someone WILL operate it that way and experience the consequences." He was a dedicated and thorough empiricist: he always demanded to know what evidence you were basing your statements on, and heaven help the guy who tried to bluff him. This insistence on backing up every statement with demonstrable facts--especially in the mandatory EOOW/EWS seminars--is the hallmark of a Navy Nuclear Power education, and it has been the cornerstone of many successful careers. One of my nuc-school classmates went to Harvard Law School after his naval service, graduated at the top of his class, and went on to a high-powered career as a Wall Street lawyer. His nuc training made him prepare every legal brief as relentlessly and thoroughly as if his own life was at stake. Many more of us went on to be top-notch commercial software developers for the same reason: Rickover's program taught us to check every possibility, verify every claim, and NEVER take anything for granted, so that we insist on writing robust, efficient, user-proof code.
I served with Pete Graef, but not on Parche. Pete is the greatest leader of men I have ever known. He was every bit as diligent and capable as the Admiral. But he also had a sense of humor as infectious, irreverent and inspiring as those of the physicist Richard Feynman and the actor Alan Alda (who played MASH's Hawkeye Pierce). I miss Pete a lot, and wish him well wherever he is now.
--DBF pin--
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blind Man's Bluff disappoints, 12 Jan 1999
By A Customer
"... the most [dangerous, brash, risky, perilous] operation of the *entire* cold war ..." I stopped counting after five such sentances. The big story here is that US subs attached wiretaps to Soviet telecom cables. And a few collided (mainly denting hulls). Yawn. It reads like disconnected newspaper articles written by different authors, unfiltered interviews with inarticulate submariners. Under the spell of the Silent Service, the authors seemed to have checked their journalistic instincts at the door of the Horse and Cow (a sailor's bar). There's no sense of history here -- numerous absurd, simplistic summaries of major world events. Have the authors ever been on a surface ship? A submarine? Underwater (SCUBA)? None of the descriptions rang true, except maybe of life on a diesel sub. (Did they gun a car engine in a closed garage, to get the feel of it?) In the last two chapters, we are confronted by the authors' political views: the US misunderstood Soviet's "defensive" intentions and was needlessly provocative. This, despite the book's remarkably weak picture of the Russian side of the equation. And after exhaustive, stilted descriptions of US submarine life (did we have to know they used the head as a food pantry?) there isn't a single depiction of conditions on a Russian submarine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and thought provoking, 11 Jan 2002
By 
This review is from: Blind Mans Bluff: The Untold Story of Cold War Submarine Espionage (Paperback)
Whilst not as thourough and detailed as it might be, this is non the less an excellent first review of the cold war espionage ops conducted by the american submarine forces. much of the information needed to give this subject the treatment it trully deserves is still classified and likely to remain so for the forseeable future. The book is well writted and eminantly readable and any of its chapters could be expanded into a book in its owm right. An good value read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actual true to life story, 13 Aug 1999
By A Customer
I worked as a designer at Mare Island Navshpyd in a group called Ocean Engineering during the time of 1980-85 in the area of systems integration. We installed the systems that made the missions Sontag wrote about. I can tell you that this is what the Navy held us to secrecy for the past 15 yrs. I couldn't even tell my wife about what we were working on and why. This book has taken a load off of my mind that has haunted myself and I'm sure the other engineers alike for years. Althought I can't talk about specific systems. The book was pretty darned accurate and a fine military adventure to read. Thanks for bringing to light the fine accomplishments of the men and women of the Submarine service and the civilians that designed the Parche, R.R.Russell and Seawolf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting details - Lackluster writing!, 9 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I found much of the historical detail interesting, albeit at the price of wading through some pretty mediocre writing. Much of the impact of the book derives from its many revelations of, what the authors identify as, classified information. The authors note: "Most of the submariners and intelligence officials who have helped us with this book have done so only under the condition of anonymity and took great risks in speaking to us." This statement is either an exaggeration or an admission that the authors enticed current and former members of the military to violate their oaths, breach security and break the law. Frankly, the "read" was not worth participating in this exercise - however vicariously.
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