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Publisher's Summary

No espionage missions have been kept more secret than those involving American submarines. Now, Blind Man's Bluff shows for the first time how the navy sent submarines wired with self-destruct charges into the heart of Soviet seas to tap crucial underwater telephone cables. It unveils how the navy's own negligence might have been responsible for the loss of the USS Scorpion, a submarine that disappeared, all hands lost, 30 years ago. It tells the complete story of the audacious attempt to steal a Soviet submarine with the help of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes and how it was doomed from the start. And it reveals how the navy used the comforting notion of deep-sea rescue vehicles to hide operations that were more James Bond than Jacques Cousteau.

Blind Man's Bluff contains an unforgettable array of characters, including the cowboy sub commander who brazenly outraced torpedoes and couldn't resist sneaking up to within feet of unaware enemy subs. It takes us inside clandestine Washington meetings where top submarine captains briefed presidents and where the espionage war was planned one sub and one dangerous encounter at a time. Stretching from the years immediately after World War II to the operations of the Clinton administration, it is an epic story of daring and deception. A magnificent achievement in investigative reporting, it feels like a spy thriller but with one important difference: Everything in it is true.

©1998 Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew with Annette Lawrence Drew (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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WOW!!!

I served in the Navy in the early 80's and I had no idea this stuff was happening! This is a fantastic and compelling work. I highly recommend this read!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Outstanding

A must read for anyone interested in submarines, espionage or the cold war. Do not pass on this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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fantastic read/listen

very interesting history of intrigue, politics, and heroism. another fascinating portion of the efforts during the cold war.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating

I had no idea what our subs were capable of nor did I realize how advanced our Naval Submersible fleet is becoming. Truly enjoyed this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating Read!

This book is riveting and a great opening into the rich, albeit secretive, history of submarines. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in the worlds navies!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • ron
  • mars, Pa
  • 01-13-17

must read for anyone living during cold war

If you could sum up Blind Man's Bluff in three words, what would they be?

S.M.F

What other book might you compare Blind Man's Bluff to and why?

not sure

Which character – as performed by George Wilson – was your favorite?

ALL

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

its not about reaction. its about action taken by people dedicated to our country and its cold war spy game. I retired after 20 years in military. this is a great book and what the public never realizes what goes on daily in security of our country

Any additional comments?

My hats off the those who are in the book and those who worked for the military and contractors! I mean that. unless you were in some of these classified projects in the book or others not ever to be told. you would never understand the lives lost, games played and dedication of an ordinary kid becoming a hero in a moment and not by choice,, by reaction to their fellow military brothers and sisters and never thinking about their own safety and in some cases losing their own lives.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Breathtaking

I didn’t want to stop listening. Every chapter, every new adventure left me pining for more. My respect and admiration for the navy men who devoted their lives to the submariners life is very high indeed. Thank you for producing this magnificent volume.

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Amazing Cold War Events

“Blind Man's Bluff”, subtitled “The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage”, is written by both Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew. The audiobook edition is performed by George Wilson. The book has become a New York Times Bestseller upon its release and let me say that I can understand why after listening. If you are someone who grew up during the Cold War, or if you enjoy books with submarines, or if you are a person who likes a good Clancy spy novel, you will want to pick up a copy of this audiobook; it is fascinating. Consisting of nearly sixteen hours of action-packed and factual events from history, this book is well worth the Audible credit and your listening time. I have heard rumors and bits of many of these various submarine missions, but the authors of the book bring history to life and fill in many of the gaps in stories available elsewhere. Nowhere have I found a book that covers so much of what was kept secret for such a long period of time; much of it is still classified as Top Secret. Things we will never know and may never want to know.

What I found intriguing was all the amazing men (the Navy’s submariner program was mostly men during this time in history) who risked their lives to collect intelligence on our perceived enemy threats. I was also amazed how much the program expanded from not only leveraging this technology against the Russians, but also other countries we felt were hostile to the United States; and even a few of our allies. It was interesting to see how quickly a program could be developed and that it took so long for people to realize the potential of these “tin cans of death” under the cover of the seas. Not only did we want to build bigger, faster, and quieter submarine technology, we also wanted vessels that could be used to tap underwater communication cables without the other side knowing. All of this clandestine activity needed to be done via the highest level of secrecy while also attempting to build defenses around our own infrastructure preventing others from doing the same to us.

All of the technology and missions were what captivated me the most about this book, yet there was also such well researched material around the various programs, funding, and quite a bit of internal feuding to ultimately see who would get the credit when all of this rolled up to the higher-ups in government. The authors did an exceptional job of not just telling us about the missions, or what could be the more interesting parts, but instead gave us the whole story even when some of it was not all that pretty and people lost their lives. The book goes beyond covering the cable wire taping program that many are familiar with, it also dives into the many cat and mouse games played between the Russians and Americans at the heat of the cold war. It covers the multitude of near misses while the two countries played these games with one another. And, as most have been told by their mothers while young, it is all fun until some gets hurt. This book details what might have been at the heart of the loss of the USS Scorpion which failed to return to port at its assigned time.

The ability of the authors to research and catalogue so much about this program from papers requested via the freedom of information act, interviewing people who were there on the missions, and also from records found from the other side which gave a very different view of what we believe happened. I feel the book only exposes the tip of the iceberg, yet there is so much we will never know about this program.

For me, the book’s narration by George Wilson could have been more professionally recorded or edited prior to being made available on Audible. Overall the narration was decent, yet there were a few times where there were some noticeable volume inconstancies and a few times I could hear background noise. Nothing that would keep me from listening and being engaged with such a powerful story. The narration was not terrible, yet for those who like their narration and audio error free, just be aware there are a few spots if you pick up this book.

For parents and younger readers. This book does have a few places where profanity is used but is only used when the authors are quoting someone. It could have been beeped out, but the authors instead decided to leave quotes unedited, so be aware that there are a few places strong language is used and quite heavy at times. Being this book is a military piece of non-fiction, there are also some quite graphic events covered in the material, however these are factual events and the book does not contain anything that excessive.

In summary, the book was a fascinating piece that brought me into the historic events of cold war and the importance of information during these times. One needs to remember, this was pre-Internet and government hacking. All of these missions required men and women to put their lives as risk in the hope that the information gathered would keep you and I safe from future attack. If you are looking for a piece of engrossing non-fiction and you like to see the world of spies and submarines, I highly recommend you pick up “Blind Man’s Bluff” and give it a listen.

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The only book I couldn't put down

This is the most interesting book on the Cold War that I've ever read. It ranks as one of the best books I've ever encountered. It kept me up late at night and I couldn't wait to get back to it. It's too awesome for words!

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Amazing, Astonishing, Awesome.

Read it. listen to it, a thrilling ride through the deep seas of cold war espionage.

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  • Jonjoe Mawson-Walton
  • 02-27-18

Fantastic

I'm a marine engineering officer and I found this fantastic. Detailed enough to not be silly to anyone with knowledge of the subject but not over detailed to the point of boredom.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • TheCritic
  • 12-08-17

Great book.

A peak into the world of submarines and their crews and despite the adversity the respect and bravery with which they regard eachother.

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  • Alwrites
  • 09-09-17

Excellent

Fascinating, well-written, demands re-creating. Arguably the best cold War submarine espionage read. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • Andrew P.
  • 07-25-17

Good history story

Enjoyed this book and some of the stories were eye opening and good to hear historical accounts of the submarine missions

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  • S. Morris
  • 02-09-17

On These Battlefields, Warriors Whisper

I've been wanting to get this title on audio for ages and so snapped it up as soon as I came across it by accident during a search. As a submarine buff this is a "must have" book and even for those not so inclined this book sheds fascinating light on the covert and very secret spying and trailing missions during the Cold War.

The book covers the story of a different submarine and its crew and their involvement in the undercover missions in its own chapter which makes for a nice simple and logical structure. In addition, the events appear to be in chronological order as far as I can recall which also is useful.

There is a lot of information presented here and some of it I knew already, a lot of it I had no details on until reading this and a good portion was unknown to me. Of particular interest to me was the chapters covering the loss of the USS Scorpion and the recovery of the sunken Soviet Golf class submarine which I think was actually K-129 although, strangely, this book does not specify this. This recovery effort, referred to as Project Jennifer but also known as Project Azorian (not mentioned by the authors which would have been useful to clarify or connect the recovery effort to the official Jennifer project name) was perhaps the most audacious undertaking by the U.S Navy during the Cold War.

What I found useful in this book for the two incidents mentioned above was how the facts as related by the authors here go a long way in the case of the Scorpion tragedy to putting to rest the varied and very speculative books written about the loss of this submarine that suggest the theory that the Soviets sunk her. Although conspiracy theory books might seem more appealing and seductive to the imagination, they can often be platforms for the authors personal beliefs rather than based on available and verifiable facts. I was carried along by this a few years back and thought that maybe the Soviets did sink the Scorpion in retaliation for the loss of the aforementioned K-129 but upon reading the concise and logical chain of events and expert opinion set out so well, I am satisfied that the perhaps mundane but nonetheless most likely cause of the loss was to do with a defect in the Mk 37 torpedo battery.

The narrator did a decent job of reading this book but he did badly pronounce some of the Russian place names I noticed. That very minor gripe withstanding, the narration was excellent.

As ever with me in my nit picking nature, I did spot an error in the Appendix A, I think it was where the hull number of the USS Sam Houston was misquoted. Again, perhaps only a submarine geek like me might notice such a mistake but I just had to point that tiny detail out.

Now, what I want to know is when there is going to be a follow up book! Almost two decades has passed since the publication of this book and so I imagine there is plenty of material waiting to be unearthed for a second instalment. Incidentally, there is an interview with one of the authors at the end of the book which is a nice bonus and interesting and insightful.

Blind Mans Bluff is a prime example of how fact can be so much more amazing than fiction and if you had no real idea what went on during the Cold War with respect to the underwater spying game then this book will be a huge and exciting eye opener to you.

Well written in a compelling narrative style, I highly recommend it.

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  • Chris M
  • 12-12-16

Get it - get it now, you won't be dissapointed

Put simply this is one of the best cold war espionage books I have read. It was recomended to me by a submariner.

Dont hesitate. Get it - it's great.

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  • D
  • 09-30-16

007 meets 'Q' in a nuclear powered chariot

Where does Blind Man's Bluff rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Great real world cold war techno-thriller.
The Russians want to kill you, the Sea wants to crush you like spam in a can, and the technology wants to kill you, crap-out on you, or both...

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

007 meets 'Q' in a nuclear powered chariot

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  • Brian
  • 08-30-16

Fantastic book

A great book and a very insightful read. Well researched and structured.

Narration style matches the story.