Blind Man's Bluff

The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage
Narrated by: George Wilson
Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (805 ratings)

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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
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best Cold War documentary...

I seldom write reviews, but this book is an exception...
Growing up during Cold War Era in Soviet Union few people knew what's going on, on ether side...
Attempts to raise my generation with ideology of US as an enemy failed miserably, this book confirms gut feelings of young kids of 70s and 80s...
Very well written, excellent narration, captivating story, I just couldn't put this one down...
Highly recommend!

10 people found this 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.

8 people found this helpful

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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!

7 people found this helpful

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Former Boat Sailor

I enjoyed reading then listening to Blind Man’s Bluff as it brought me back to many of my experiences riding boats for 15 years of my Naval career. I found myself reminiscing about those times of fear and elation. I sent a copy to my parents who were shocked when they read about my boats.
I hope you take the time to read or listen to this book and consider the sacrifices and accomplishments of submarine crews. At the height of the Cold War there were 96 fast boats, about 11000 men responsible for safeguarding our way of life.

5 people found this 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.

3 people found this 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!

2 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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Great lesson in history.......could have been a little shorter though

Yes, I do recommend listening to this book if you enjoy history. The investigative journalist did a fantastic job telling about submarine espionage that has never been told before. The one part that got a bit long and drawn out for me was the saga of Scorpion. It was repetitive telling of what caused this sub to sink.

1 person found this helpful

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fascinated about submarines

This book is great on history & and increased my fascination of submarines
I have been interested in subs since my grandfather took me to see the U-505.

1 person found this helpful

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excellent book

One of the best stories and performances I have ever heard. There send to be no end to the surprises and human perspectives uncovered in the book. I really appreciate to front seat view of this, very different world.

1 person found this helpful

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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 person found this helpful

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  • G. Williams
  • 06-07-20

Fascinating

A fascinating account of the ‘what happened’ regarding submarine activity during the Cold War. However it is a shame that the author does not explore the ‘why it happened?’ and the concomitant mindset and world view. The author writes about the USA’s breaches of International Law regarding territorial boundaries as if it is of no concern. I wonder if he would respond, similarly, if Soviet submarines had sailed within metres of an American naval facility? I think one of the fascinating aspects of this book are the assumptions which underpin it. From the Western view, NATO can be seen as a benign peace-keeping force but perhaps from a USSR perspective it seemed far more hostile? I have not yet completed the book so, perhaps, my perceptions may be wrong. However, at the moment, the lack of critical analysis regarding the deployment of the USA submarine force is irritating.

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  • Mr. C. J. Libby
  • 11-14-19

fantastic listen from start to finish<br />

first class in every way, very interesting and the fact that it all happened makes it a great listen

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  • R
  • 11-12-19

The Cold War that kept the peace.

A truly great piece of writing opening the lives of men who care to serve their countries on both sides of the fence. If I had a complaint it would be the pronunciations of Russian towns and areas as well as the word 'submariners'. I know the Americans use a different 'English' but it jars. Still a great book and the adding of appendix a & b along with the interview of the investigative writers was really great when you are given some insight in what it takes to bring this to life. One of the truly great points that became apparent was the respect towards their enmities these men who went on these mission had for those they faced and when something went wrong how it played upon their minds that they could have caused the deaths of fellow submariners.

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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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  • 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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  • Brian
  • 08-30-16

Fantastic book

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

Narration style matches the story.