I finished reading Blind Man’s Bluff this week. A departure from my traditional fiction based novels, this book details submarine based spying and counter-spying during the Cold War. Throughout the book I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t an outlandish functional accounting of American and Soviet naval activity, but in fact entirely fact based. So many of the missions detailed seemed larger than life and too far fetched to be reality. But, just the same they were real.
This is where the book shines. Each chapter is the result of a mountain of research conducted by the three authors. Declassified Navy reports, political documents, new coverage, and person to person interviews were all used to flush out the facts needed to properly document the history of submarine warfare throughout the Cold War.
It was shocking to read what the Navy allowed to be reported in the book. It only makes me wonder what else happened out there that no one will ever read about. Chapters cover the entire history of submarine spying staring in 1949 as an early CIA operative joins the crew of the Cochino as it heads for Soviet waters carrying a new antenna design to pull intelligence secrets out of the air.
Other chapters cover the race for dominance of the worlds oceans as the arms race pits Russia and the United States in a competition to build quieter, faster, and more heavily armed submersible weapon platforms. None of this happens without the loss of life and the authors do an admirable job of educating the reader about the human element every step of the way. Undersea collisions, battery problems, fires, missing ships— you name it, its in there.
Simply put, you have to read this in order to believe it. Amazing stuff. If America had been aware of the recklessness of many of the Cold War undersea missions, tensions of the time would have been even more intense.