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Publisher's Summary

Winning the Cold War is in the balance.

A super-secret, off-the-books spy organization; a security-clearance starting at top secret and going up from there; an attack by giant squid during a 1,000-foot dive while breathing an exotic gas; a cat's whisker escape from death during a three-day decompression - and that's just the first two chapters of Operation Ivy Bells before the action really gets underway.

Blending personal experience and real-world events in a fictional wrapping, Operation Ivy Bells offers a never-before-seen glimpse of these heroic men fearlessly facing death to gather the intel that tipped the scales to win the Cold War.

©2014 Robert G. Williscroft (P)2015 Robert G. Williscroft

What listeners say about Operation Ivy Bells

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Submarines and Secrets


Winning the Cold War is in the balance. A super-secret, off-the-books spy organization; a security-clearance starting at top secret and going up from there; an attack by giant squid during a 1,000-foot dive while breathing an exotic gas; a cat's whisker escape from death during a three-day decompression - and that's just the first two chapters of Operation Ivy Bells before the action really gets underway. Blending personal experience and real-world events in a fictional wrapping, Operation Ivy Bells offers a never-before-seen glimpse of these heroic men fearlessly facing death to gather the intel that tipped the scales to win the Cold War.

Although this book is classified as fiction, it is based so heavily on personal experience that it reads more like a memoir, or, perhaps, the literary version of a docudrama. For those who, as I do, love anything involving ships and sailing, (above or below the water) this is a gold mine of information and provides an insightful and fascinating view of life on a submarine, at its most calm and at its most frantic.

There is a lot of technical information, but the author skillfully presents it so that even this landlubber understands enough to follow what is being done, how and why. I found that, perhaps because the subject interests me, the wealth of technical information did not make the book drag, but this is not a thriller, at least in the traditional sense.

When things happen, though, they happen very quickly, but, because the author has prepared the ground very well, he can present the action with tension and immediacy, not having to stop the flow for explanations.

In contrast to the technicalities involved, the author presents the characters in very human ways, and we come to see then, not as moving parts of a demonstration of submarine operations but as individuals. There are some very moving moments, and a good bit of humor, especially in the interactions between the characters, and the author captures the way a good team works together very nicely. Granted I occasionally thought that the main character (drawn from the author’s personal career and experience) seemed a bit *too* smart and versatile in solving problems, but perhaps the author is simply describing his actions, and the character is never too quick to take credit for his accomplishments. He is a team player, and often, ideas spark from the team, and he is able to combine them in some unique ways.

The story itself is amazing, more so because it is based on actual events. Again, the meticulous description of what the divers did, and how they did what they did enhances the story and gives in immediacy.

I found this narrator’s voice extremely pleasant, and enjoyed listening to his narration. He has an extremely low key, calm style, yet he is able to differentiate his characters well, and has good expression, though it is expressed in subtle ways. Very occasionally, I wondered if his style was a little too soothing, but then he would have to change his presentation slightly to accommodate the text. By the end of the book, I decided that he was perfect for this sort of book, and would probably excel at any nonfiction.

Because this book was so thorough and so well presented, I give this book 5 stars, though I do not recommend it for those looking for a traditional thriller. I also give the narrator 5 stars, because he was able to invest even the most technical passages with life and interest.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of AudioBookBlast dot com.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Near True Nautical Adventure Tale

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I would to some one who like this genre. The tale is a slightly fictionalized account of a true event during the cold war era.

What did you like best about this story?

I general I love historical novels especially good ones that don't re-write history and this novel fits that bill. I learned about a true naval operation that occurred during the cold war that I never before was aware of.

Which character – as performed by Mark Budwill – was your favorite?

The LT Mac.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The award ceremony.

Any additional comments?

At first I was a bit bored with the book as the start was a bit slow and not action packed. However the book kept getting better. The book was well written and preformed and there is more action as the book progresses. Also the story is educational and informative. Not only did I learn about a cold war navel operation I also learned some nautical jargon and about low depth immersion diving. Such as the gasses used, the equipment, decompression and so forth. This may be a bit boring though for some one who is not into navel and driving stuff.

Over all the book was excellently written, educational, informative and entertaining. I think that it could make a good move that would be a far more realistic fact based tale than such movies as the 'mission impossible' films.


“I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot come”

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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GREAT STORY, GREAT STORYTELLER, GREAT PERFORMANCE

As a master storyteller, Robert Williscroft takes his real life experiences and spins them into a fascinating story that made me want to keep listening! Just when I thought the situation couldn't get any more challenging for his characters, Williscroft pulls out another adventure. I had read some of this in the groundbreaking information in the non-fiction book "Blind Man's Bluff" but this brought the story to life in a way that only a man gifted with experience and storytelling skills can do. For those who know nothing about the Navy, submarines, and saturation diving, it will lead you into a whole new world of danger and excitement. For those who are familiar with one or all three, the detail is flawless and sharp. Williscroft's characters are likable, fun, believable, and I found myself hoping I would meet them again!

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So great I bought the book AND the audiobook.

Great book, want more. new narrator though please. This guy was meh through most of the book.

Updated 1/2/21: I was a little rash in my original review. Having taken the time to adjust to the narrator I have come to found that I really enjoy this narrator. There are some minor issues with pacing and pronunciation and whatnot but those are super-minor nitpicks. I can't wait for Operation Icebreaker's audiobook and I genuinely hope that Mister Budwell is the narrator again.

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Excellent Fiction Of Real Naval History

Operation Ivy Bells was an amazing chapter of Cold War US Naval history. RG Williscroft has given it a bit of an added fictional upgrade that further highlights the actual courageous actions of the crews who undertook these dangerous covert missions. = Highly Recommended!

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Oversight Sorely Needed

Exciting yet insane story and as I read these books on US Navy, you have to wonder who signs off on these missions that could have easily started a war. The ironic part of this is that they don't tell a majority of the men aboard what the mission is. At least tell these Patriots why they risk their lives.

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great story, great deeds.

As an ex-squid I really enjoyed this take and the history behind it. I found the limits of my regular commute time frustrating because I didn't want to stop listening.

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Excellent!

A glimpse into the "Silent Service"! These men are some of the most dedicated soldiers serving our country.

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Near True Nautical Adventure Tale

Where does Operation Ivy Bells rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 10

What did you like best about this story?

I general I love historical novels especially good ones that don't re-write history and this novel fits that bill. I learned about a true naval operation that occurred during the cold war

Have you listened to any of Mark Budwill’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no, Mark Budwell did a wonderful job of narrating the story. His voices were excellent and indicated just the right amount of intenseness and excitement. He was perfect for this book

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

I hated that this story had to end

Any additional comments?

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBoom dot com

  • Overall
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Completely engaging page turner

Loved this story! Sucked me in and wouldn't let me go. Only complaint would be that the narrator was a bit monotone in the beginning.