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Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S.

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One of the great secrets of the Cold War, hidden for decades, is revealed at last. Early in 1968 a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine sank in the waters off Hawaii, hundreds of miles closer to American shores than it should have been. Compelling evidence, assembled here for the first time, strongly suggests that the sub, K-129, sank while attempting to fire a nuclear missile, One of the great secrets of the Cold War, hidden for decades, is revealed at last. Early in 1968 a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine sank in the waters off Hawaii, hundreds of miles closer to American shores than it should have been. Compelling evidence, assembled here for the first time, strongly suggests that the sub, K-129, sank while attempting to fire a nuclear missile, most likely at the naval base at Pearl Harbor.We now know that the Soviets had lost track of the sub; it had become a rogue. While the Soviets searched in vain for the boat, U.S. intelligence was able to pinpoint the site of the disaster. The new Nixon administration launched a clandestine, half-billion-dollar project to recover the sunken K-129. Contrary to years of deliberately misleading reports, the recovery operation was a great success. With the recovery of the sub, it became clear that the rogue was attempting to mimic a Chinese submarine, almost certainly with the intention of provoking a war between the U.S. and China. This was a carefully planned operation that, had it succeeded, would have had devastating consequences. During the successful recovery effort, the U.S. forged new relationships with the USSR and China. Could the information gleaned from the sunken sub have been a decisive factor shaping the new policies of detente between the Americans and the Soviets, and opening China to the West? And who in the USSR could have planned such a bold and potentially catastrophic operation?Red Star Rogue reads like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, but it is all true. Today our greatest fear is that terrorists may someday acquire a nuclear weapon and use it against us. In fact, they have already tried.

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One of the great secrets of the Cold War, hidden for decades, is revealed at last. Early in 1968 a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine sank in the waters off Hawaii, hundreds of miles closer to American shores than it should have been. Compelling evidence, assembled here for the first time, strongly suggests that the sub, K-129, sank while attempting to fire a nuclear missile, One of the great secrets of the Cold War, hidden for decades, is revealed at last. Early in 1968 a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine sank in the waters off Hawaii, hundreds of miles closer to American shores than it should have been. Compelling evidence, assembled here for the first time, strongly suggests that the sub, K-129, sank while attempting to fire a nuclear missile, most likely at the naval base at Pearl Harbor.We now know that the Soviets had lost track of the sub; it had become a rogue. While the Soviets searched in vain for the boat, U.S. intelligence was able to pinpoint the site of the disaster. The new Nixon administration launched a clandestine, half-billion-dollar project to recover the sunken K-129. Contrary to years of deliberately misleading reports, the recovery operation was a great success. With the recovery of the sub, it became clear that the rogue was attempting to mimic a Chinese submarine, almost certainly with the intention of provoking a war between the U.S. and China. This was a carefully planned operation that, had it succeeded, would have had devastating consequences. During the successful recovery effort, the U.S. forged new relationships with the USSR and China. Could the information gleaned from the sunken sub have been a decisive factor shaping the new policies of detente between the Americans and the Soviets, and opening China to the West? And who in the USSR could have planned such a bold and potentially catastrophic operation?Red Star Rogue reads like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, but it is all true. Today our greatest fear is that terrorists may someday acquire a nuclear weapon and use it against us. In fact, they have already tried.

30 review for Red Star Rogue: The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarine's Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S.

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    A speculative, conspiratorial work. This one sentence from John Craven's book fascinates the author: "there existed a possibility, small though it might be, that the skipper of this rogue submarine was attempting to launch or had actually launched a ballistic missile with a live warhead in the direction of Hawaii. He take this conditional conjecture, throws in a cabal of KGB big shots, and delivers an almost 300-page book. The central thesis behind his assertion of a rogue launch is his claim tha A speculative, conspiratorial work. This one sentence from John Craven's book fascinates the author: "there existed a possibility, small though it might be, that the skipper of this rogue submarine was attempting to launch or had actually launched a ballistic missile with a live warhead in the direction of Hawaii. He take this conditional conjecture, throws in a cabal of KGB big shots, and delivers an almost 300-page book. The central thesis behind his assertion of a rogue launch is his claim that the sub went down at 163º W Lon, 24º N Lat. This is critical since the K-129 was armed with three SS-N-5 Serb missiles with a range of approximately 760 nautical miles. Pearl Harbor is 327 nautical miles from the claimed sinking site, well within the range of the Serb missile. If the sub sank at the official claimed site of 180º Lon, 40º N Lat, it would be more than 800 nautical miles short of the presumed target. That aside, There's a bunch of inaccuracies in his description of the Hughes Glomar Explorer and the raising of the K-129. The essential facts are: The location of the recovery site was not restricted to "ranking members of the Glomar crew and the CIA managers" as Mr. Sewell claims. Certainly the seamen (ship drivers) were well aware of the recovery position, as was the recovery team. Contrary to his assertion, there were no restricted areas on the ship except the commo van and the rig floor during dangerous pipe handling conditions. Others would frequently visit the bridge where we could observe the Transit Nav Sat position being displayed on the navigation console. Besides, anyone with a boy scout's knowledge and protractor could observe the sun at local noon and determine the latitude to within a couple of degrees. The position of the K-129 recovery site was on the180º meridian, approximately 40º N Lat. The longitude was so spot on the International Date Line, that there was some discussion as to the date to use in the recovery log. Since the voyage originated east of the date line, we continued to use this date. Also, the book states that the one-megaton nuclear warheads carried on the K-129's missile have a yield equivalent to 1000 tons of TNT; in reality, one megaton is about one million tons TNT equivalent. Another simple, verifiable error is that the authors claim that the crews of USS Parche & USS (Richard B.) Russell received awards for their part in the K-129 recovery efforts in late 1968/early 1969. What?! These two subs weren't even built yet! Also, the authors repeatedly use presented hypotheses as facts later in the book - a cardinal flaw in any form of deductive reasoning. There's some space on nefarious Soviet rogues, but there's no record of them (a memorial later carries extra names, but the authors never follow up on them) - but if they had been there, he asserts, they could have been KGB "Oznaz" commandos who could have commandeered the ship, and would have had training in using nukes; the Americans determine the truth, but kept quiet for "political" reasons (for the authors, it's enough to say how tense the American political situation is and say that the considerations for the cover-up were indeed political without having to get into details). The authors lunge for every possible conclusion, and drop a few sensationalist hints that they never bother to follow up (links to convicted turncoat John Walker and the mysterious loss of the USS Scorpion being two examples; my guess is that Walker's role is overblown here - there's no explanation for how he had access to sensitive diplomatic documents). The authors' proof is also selectively analyzed. Extra crewmen are "established" to have been on K-129, even though there's no record of their being aboard, and any record, the authors say, could have been falsified by the high-ranking plotters. The authors never consider that evidence establishing that these men ever existed may have been a simple clerical error (if the plotters were highly placed, couldn't they have simply substituted the desired crewmen?). The authors discount a voluntary role played by the actual executive staff because their high rank made them loyal - but then implicate higher ranking members of Soviet leadership; the extra crew accidentally destroy the ship trying to bypass safeguards on the ship's warheads, but it's never explained why loyal agents of such highly authorized sources lacked access to the weapons that obviated a bypass; the authors determine that a missile explosion destroyed the ship - but make the leap to an explosion caused by an attempted launch, and ignore any other hardware failure like the one that caused the Nedelin tragedy, or the one involved in the loss of Submarine K-219 in 1986 (K-219 rates nary a mention in "Rogue"). The authors posit conspirators trained on nuclear-weapons, but not trained adequately. Lastly, the Americans go out of their way to recover K-129 intact because they can use it as proof of the Soviets' plot as leverage against them - even though the sub itself (according to "Rogue") is likely cut up for scrap by those same Americans almost as soon as it's brought back to California. Though claiming the attack was meant to frame the Chinese, the authors utterly fail to present evidence pointing to China: K-129 was an advanced member of a class of subs found only in Soviet service, crewed by uniformed Soviet sailors and armed with Soviet missiles. The authors utterly fail to provide information that Americans in 1968 would have needed to link the attack to China, or explain how the Soviets could have refuted suspicions that the attack was their own. It's as if the authors spent most of the book hyping some horrible plot - then neglecting to include the plot as well. The author's spend most of the book "debunking" the nearly-official story of K-129 & her recovery, dismissing some claims as ludicrous - but still relying on many such sources for corroboration. Why the accepted story is the wrong story, but sufficient for their purposes will remain a mystery the authors are not likely to reveal in the near future. The book gets goofier and goofier as you go along: he describes a "cold launch" system to fire the missiles FROM A SURFACED POSITION - in essence this system uses compressed air to blow the missile free from its launch tube AS THE SUBMARINE IS SUBMERGED. The predecessor to the submarine, the Golf I class HAD to fire while surfaced, and used an elevator platform to lift the missile clear of the launch tube, of which there were three located in the sail. The Golf II was specifically created to be able to utilize the R-21 missile, which GAVE IT AN UNDERWATER LAUNCH CAPABILITY. If the author had even bothered to actually read Pavel Podvig's book, Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces WHICH HE CITES, he would know that the K-129 would not have fired from the surface, but submerged. But well, that would conflict with the story.... So the permissive action lock triggered the missile's warhead to self destruct? What? How? The PAL prevents the missile from firing, or the warhead from detonating, but it does NOT pop the explosives. It would render it inert, assuming the R021 had such a system. Not to mention that such an explosion would have opened up the missile's fuel tanks (it was a liquid-fuelled missile after all) and most likely would have blown open the missile hatches covering the other two birds in their tubes. Then you have two more missiles blowing their fuel tanks, and in the end, there wouldn't be enough of that sub left to fit in a sardine can. Elsewhere young sailor found wearing a senior officer's sheepskin coat is cited as evidence of a mutiny. The authors say anonymous sources reported twelve mysterious men were added to the crew, but they do not have a list of the crewmembers. The authors say such a list would be faked anyway. Huh? This was actually my first book on K-129, unfortunately.

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Becker

    I thought this book was a good editor away from being a five star book, but there are a number of reasons why I like it. First of all, assuming that this book is completely true and full of facts, it's a scary reality, and it's certainly plausible. Did this happen? Was all of society nearly snuffed out? Is this worth reading again with Pakistan's shaky society and North Korea's nuclear ambitions? In short, simply the prospect of what could have been is scary enough for me, and I found this part t I thought this book was a good editor away from being a five star book, but there are a number of reasons why I like it. First of all, assuming that this book is completely true and full of facts, it's a scary reality, and it's certainly plausible. Did this happen? Was all of society nearly snuffed out? Is this worth reading again with Pakistan's shaky society and North Korea's nuclear ambitions? In short, simply the prospect of what could have been is scary enough for me, and I found this part to be gripping. Additionally, did Tom Clancy get the idea for The Hunt for Red October from this story? The similarities are there, but since I'm someone that enjoys an occasional Clancy novel or three, if you want something as well-written as possible, you take Clancy and the Red October. Lastly, though, I was engrossed with the inclusion of the Glomar Explorer. As a young boy, I remember reading Janes and all sorts of good military history, and I always wondered what that ship was for...until I read this book. Some things I've always wondered about fit into place, and with that, we get a four star book. If only the writing was stronger...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Joseph DiFrancesco

    Red Star Rogue stayed its course to the very last page, anchoring me place with its un-floundering execution of this captivating, intrigue-rich analysis of the K-129 incident. Okay, enough with the nautical play on words. Sewell did an outstanding job here. Anyone fond of Tom Clancy’s work, or all things thick with espionage and skullduggery will thoroughly enjoy this book. The author did his homework, and showed a healthy amount of analytical objectivity to answer reader’s questions before they Red Star Rogue stayed its course to the very last page, anchoring me place with its un-floundering execution of this captivating, intrigue-rich analysis of the K-129 incident. Okay, enough with the nautical play on words. Sewell did an outstanding job here. Anyone fond of Tom Clancy’s work, or all things thick with espionage and skullduggery will thoroughly enjoy this book. The author did his homework, and showed a healthy amount of analytical objectivity to answer reader’s questions before they were asked. With that said - I’m going to go on a bit of a tirade here so please excuse me. According to this book (*spoiler alerts) satellite technology circa 1969 could not only see an object in the middle of the ocean measuring only 5 ft. by 5ft., it was also capable of identifying burning fuel as the type and grade used by Russian attack subs of that time. Satellites could virtually smell petrol from outer space. So, how is it that in 2014 not one nation on this planet was able to tell us what happened to the still-missing jumbo jet MH 370. My theory then, now reinforced by revelations within this book, was that most likely several countries are well aware of what happened to that mysterious flight, or in the least, “where” it happened. However, saying so would inadvertently shed too much light on their surveillance technology’s efficacy. Still, you would hope that someone, somewhere would at least hint, as in, “Hey, maybe someone should look over here. We saw a blip or something around the time of its disappearance.” I didn’t buy the story, or lack there of, then, and I certainly don’t buy it now. Red Star Rogue made me re-think flight MH 370. I hope others will sit up and take notice as well.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Bergendorf

    Lots of problems with this book. Sewell and Richmond may be the kings of redundancy, with paragraph after paragraph making the same point--in only slightly modified language. 300 pages could have been condensed to 125 easily. Then there are the questionable facts. A one-megaton warhead is NOT a low-yield device. The US did NOT have digital spy satellites that could spot a nuclear launch (those came in the 1970s). The Chinese nuclear "arsenal" was almost non-existent and the Chi-Coms had no boome Lots of problems with this book. Sewell and Richmond may be the kings of redundancy, with paragraph after paragraph making the same point--in only slightly modified language. 300 pages could have been condensed to 125 easily. Then there are the questionable facts. A one-megaton warhead is NOT a low-yield device. The US did NOT have digital spy satellites that could spot a nuclear launch (those came in the 1970s). The Chinese nuclear "arsenal" was almost non-existent and the Chi-Coms had no boomer submarines at that time (to launch such a missile). Also (though my nuclear physics is a bit rusty), I'm pretty sure the plutonium in a thermonuke is not powdered, but rather a pretty hard yet pretty metal.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lon

    I had a hard time putting this book down once I started it. It has the feel of a fictional spy thriller, but only small details of the story are currently unverifiable and probably always will be. The apparent shake-up at the Kremlin says enough for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Kresal

    The sinking of the Soviet submarine K-129 and the CIA's subsequent attempts to recover it has long been of interest to me. So, having finally gotten the chance to read this book, I was intrigued by this new angle on what seemed a familiar incident. In fact if you think you know anything about this event then you might want to think again. Red Star Rogue puts forward a compelling case that the event that sank K-129 was far more sinister then the public has ever been told. In fact authors Kenneth The sinking of the Soviet submarine K-129 and the CIA's subsequent attempts to recover it has long been of interest to me. So, having finally gotten the chance to read this book, I was intrigued by this new angle on what seemed a familiar incident. In fact if you think you know anything about this event then you might want to think again. Red Star Rogue puts forward a compelling case that the event that sank K-129 was far more sinister then the public has ever been told. In fact authors Kenneth Sewell and Clint Richard use interviews (mostly with unnamed sources), declassified documents and supposition they come to the conclusion that on March 7, 1968 the U.S. came within moments of a nuclear attack by a rogue Soviet submarine. While they certainly make a compelling case it is by no means convincing. The make that case the authors fall into the trap often found in conspiracy theory boos of building a theory that fits facts but not the supporting evidence. The authors contend that a rogue group of hard-line Soviet officials put a KGB team on K-129 who then hijacked it and attempted to launch a missile in an attempt to start a war between the U.S. and China. Sadly the authors try to make up for a lack of evidence with supposition by the bucket load and the result, while compelling, is far from convincing. Where the authors are more successful is in the revelations about the CIA attempt to recover the wreck of K-129. The authors reveal a web of intrigue and deceit used to cover up where the sub sank, how it was found and how much of it was recovered. Here, armed with much better evidence, the authors make both a compelling and convincing case. The revelation that much more of K-129 was recovered then has ever been admitted has to be read by anyone who thinks they know all there is to know about this incident. Red Star Rogue is a compelling book. Though not convincing in its premise of a near miss with a nuclear attack, the case for a CIA cover-up in the recovery effort is. While it might not be entirely convincing it is certainly compelling and should be a fascinating read for anyone interested in the Cold War era.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book ties together some well known facts, some new revelations that are thinly sourced, and circumstantial evidence to paint a chilling picture of what may have been happening in 1968 when K-129 sank off Hawaii. Whether the story is true or not will likely never be known - even if hard information to confirm the machinations of the KGB and Politburo exist, I seriously doubt that it will come to light. With the information available, the narrative that Mr. Sewell paints is truly terrifying a This book ties together some well known facts, some new revelations that are thinly sourced, and circumstantial evidence to paint a chilling picture of what may have been happening in 1968 when K-129 sank off Hawaii. Whether the story is true or not will likely never be known - even if hard information to confirm the machinations of the KGB and Politburo exist, I seriously doubt that it will come to light. With the information available, the narrative that Mr. Sewell paints is truly terrifying and shows the great lengths to which Cold War enemies went to play each other. What is even more terrifying is that it is so plausible as to be real, and that it was very near a success rather than a failure on the part of the men aboard K-129. How the United States would have reacted to a nuclear strike on Pearl Harbor in 1968 is no secret - the missiles would have flown at whoever Johnson could blame first. The author's links to the coming glasnost and perestroika show that the Soviet and American leadership knew how close they were to nuclear catastrophe and saw the need to reduce tensions and bring the Cold War to an end. If this was the result of 98 men losing their lives off Hawaii, then perhaps the story does have a positive ending after all.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Irvin

    This is a very engaging book; well, if you're into historical non-fiction about submarine warfare. I found it very interesting. Sewell presents a somewhat radical theory about the well-known K-129 incident. I had read about this book from articles about K-129 that say that Sewell's theory is nonsense and the work of a crackpot. I think that's an unfair characterization of Sewell. Right or wrong, he presents a very well-researched, well-argued position. There are places where his reasoning does no This is a very engaging book; well, if you're into historical non-fiction about submarine warfare. I found it very interesting. Sewell presents a somewhat radical theory about the well-known K-129 incident. I had read about this book from articles about K-129 that say that Sewell's theory is nonsense and the work of a crackpot. I think that's an unfair characterization of Sewell. Right or wrong, he presents a very well-researched, well-argued position. There are places where his reasoning does not seem sound - he's far too willing to interpret lack of evidence as evidence of secrets, and there are a few places in the text where he states things as "obvious" conclusions that seem a bit strained to me. In the end, Sewell's argument hinges on information that he gleaned from more than a dozen anonymous sources. You have to judge for yourself whether you think Sewell trustworthy, whether you're willing to believe in the existence of these sources of if you think he must made them and their material up.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Lamb

    The best part about this book is that the events occurred and were kept a secret for so long. Now that the information is out there, it is largely unknown that in 1968 the world was closer to Nuclear War than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That is the reason for three rather than two stars. Now for the bad part about this book. I didn't like the way it was presented. It wasn't well organized, so it seemed like I was reading an extremely detailed account that repeated itself frequently from pass The best part about this book is that the events occurred and were kept a secret for so long. Now that the information is out there, it is largely unknown that in 1968 the world was closer to Nuclear War than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That is the reason for three rather than two stars. Now for the bad part about this book. I didn't like the way it was presented. It wasn't well organized, so it seemed like I was reading an extremely detailed account that repeated itself frequently from passage to passage. In short, I think this one could have been written in 1/3 the number of pages and still been interesting. As it was, I got bored with the rehashing in every passage and thought that the additional detail was more of a detractor than enhancement.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a very interesting sea story that turns into a rather complex conspiracy theory (and who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory?). Basically the story is that elements of the GRU plotted to launch a nuclear strike on Pearl Harbor using an old sub that was similar enough to a Chinese diesel-electric, hoping the US would retaliate against China with the full might of their 60's nuclear arsenal, thereby eliminating a chief rival. The actions of the US after discovering the wreck (the attack This is a very interesting sea story that turns into a rather complex conspiracy theory (and who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory?). Basically the story is that elements of the GRU plotted to launch a nuclear strike on Pearl Harbor using an old sub that was similar enough to a Chinese diesel-electric, hoping the US would retaliate against China with the full might of their 60's nuclear arsenal, thereby eliminating a chief rival. The actions of the US after discovering the wreck (the attack didn't quite go as planned) are right out of most spy-thrillers. Believe it or not, it's a great read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    An interesting story piecing together various pieces of military intelligence to indicate that a Soviet nuclear sub was taken over by rogue elements and attempted to launch a nuclear missle at Pearl Harbor. I'm not sure it's true - to my mind, it is short on facts and long on speculation. Also - a bit repetitive and non-linear in its telling of the tale. Could've used an editor to streamline the narrative a bit. But a nice, thrilling read. Could make a good movie...oh wait...Red October is alread An interesting story piecing together various pieces of military intelligence to indicate that a Soviet nuclear sub was taken over by rogue elements and attempted to launch a nuclear missle at Pearl Harbor. I'm not sure it's true - to my mind, it is short on facts and long on speculation. Also - a bit repetitive and non-linear in its telling of the tale. Could've used an editor to streamline the narrative a bit. But a nice, thrilling read. Could make a good movie...oh wait...Red October is already made...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Endre Barath

    I read this book since I was wondering what intrigued my father to read it....It is truly an amazing story, which was under the radar for the past 30+ years. It is very interesting in understanding some of the inner workings of the Intelligence Services. Now I have a Clear understanding why the Iron Curtain of Russia colapsed and why Pres. Richard M Nixon was able to develop a friendly relationship with China. If you want to know read this book.....Also if you want to know how close we came to W I read this book since I was wondering what intrigued my father to read it....It is truly an amazing story, which was under the radar for the past 30+ years. It is very interesting in understanding some of the inner workings of the Intelligence Services. Now I have a Clear understanding why the Iron Curtain of Russia colapsed and why Pres. Richard M Nixon was able to develop a friendly relationship with China. If you want to know read this book.....Also if you want to know how close we came to World War III then you must read it.... Appropriately I finished reading the book on May 1st.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I really wanted to enjoy this book...I am a huge fan of Tom Clancy and I loved Blind Man's Bluff, but I just couldn't. Part of it is that it isn't very well written; the narrative wanders and repeats itself quite a bit. The bigger reason though is that it's almost all conjecture. There's almost no hard evidence provided to support the theory the author has. Because of that, it fails to rise to the standard of a piece of history. Unfortunately, since it's poorly written, it doesn't stand up to Cl I really wanted to enjoy this book...I am a huge fan of Tom Clancy and I loved Blind Man's Bluff, but I just couldn't. Part of it is that it isn't very well written; the narrative wanders and repeats itself quite a bit. The bigger reason though is that it's almost all conjecture. There's almost no hard evidence provided to support the theory the author has. Because of that, it fails to rise to the standard of a piece of history. Unfortunately, since it's poorly written, it doesn't stand up to Clancy or Cussler either.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Soderberg

    I agree that this riveting story lacks good editing. I felt like each chapter was somehow dissociated with the others - regurgitating information already shared. But who needs sci-fi when (1) real people plan and implement such dastardly deeds and we - I lived in Hawaii - are protected by a simple fail-safe device; (2) technology offers untrammeled access to previously inaccessible unearthly locations; and (3) politicians, intelligence agencies and fear mongers rule?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Gerald

    I bought a hardcover copy of this book for just the equivalent of half a dollar at a bargain bookstore two years ago. While the events surrounding the motive of the submarine and its crew are mostly through educated guesswork, the beauty of the book is in the details on the submarine's recovery by the US. What a thrill to read!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elmira

    Wow!!! In spite of many small errors, it was a well organized book detailing an AMAZING series of events. A ficticious version couldn't have been more dramatic! This should be required reading for every diplomat, politician, and military officer in all countries so that it doesn't happen again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rick Cheeseman

    Probably could have told the story in half the pages. Lots of leaps here. And repetitive. Probably could have told the story in half the pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ross Snyder

    I enjoyed this book and read it cover to cover in just a few sittings. However, you have to enjoy this book for what it is and not be disappointed by what it isn't. This book is an exciting political and military thriller that'd be at home next to the best works of Tom Clancy. This book is not an historical reference book. Here's the actual history that we know. In March of 1968 a Soviet ballistic missile sub, the K-129, sank in the Pacific Ocean and there were no survivors. Despite a large scale I enjoyed this book and read it cover to cover in just a few sittings. However, you have to enjoy this book for what it is and not be disappointed by what it isn't. This book is an exciting political and military thriller that'd be at home next to the best works of Tom Clancy. This book is not an historical reference book. Here's the actual history that we know. In March of 1968 a Soviet ballistic missile sub, the K-129, sank in the Pacific Ocean and there were no survivors. Despite a large scale search and rescue effort by Soviet forces they were unable to locate their sunken submarine. Thanks to a host of technologies the United States was able to locate the wreck of the Soviet submarine. It was thoroughly documented via photographs and some debris was recovered. This effort reached its zenith in 1974 when Project Azorian (mistakenly referred to as Project Jennifer by the author) attempted to raise the entire submarine off the ocean floor using a specially built ship called the Hughes Glomar Explorer. The success of that effort is open to some debate. Both the US and Russian authorities have made only limited public statements about these events and they remain among the most highly classified events that occurred during the Cold War. The author presents the hypothesis that the Soviet submarine was in fact on a rogue mission to launch a ballistic missile at the US Navy Base at Pearl Harbor. In this hypothesis, the author indicates that the rogue entities within the KGB designed this mission to implicate China in the nuclear destruction of Pearl Harbor in order to start a devastating war between the United States and China. This would eliminate two major foes of the Soviet Union simultaneously. I daresay that the authors hypothesis, as presented, is plausible. However, the distance between plausible and likely is wide and filled with hearsay and highly circumstantial evidence. My only real complaint is the authors tendency to present hearsay and conjecture as absolute fact. Additionally, in one breath he'll condemn an official government position as part of the cover up and in another he'll use that same position to support his own conclusions. I enjoyed the book tremendously despite its flaws. It presented a very interesting hypothesis which seems to fit much of the circumstantial evidence surrounding the sinking and recovery of this submarine. While the author presents his conclusions as fact, I suggest that the reader maintain a more critical mindset while reading this book and formulate their own conclusions about the plausibility and likelihood that the events actually transpired as the author describes.

  19. 5 out of 5

    James Crabtree

    This extremely interesting book looks at an incident in which a Kilo-class Soviet ballistic missile submarine sank in 1960 a few hundred miles from Hawaii. Piecing together public information and some classified information Mr. Sewell argues that this submarine was actually lost during a rogue attempt to launch a nuclear missile at the United States and he makes a very compelling case. Unfortunately, most historians simply see this incident as an unfortunate accident and the photos and physical This extremely interesting book looks at an incident in which a Kilo-class Soviet ballistic missile submarine sank in 1960 a few hundred miles from Hawaii. Piecing together public information and some classified information Mr. Sewell argues that this submarine was actually lost during a rogue attempt to launch a nuclear missile at the United States and he makes a very compelling case. Unfortunately, most historians simply see this incident as an unfortunate accident and the photos and physical evidence which would prove (or disprove) that theory is still classified or in secret storage somewhere. Definitely glad I read this!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bennie

    Having followed the Glomar Explorer mission as it unfolded, I enjoyed this in-depth look at that mission. The idea that the K-129 was in the process of launching a nuclear missile at Hawaii is a scary thought. I have seen the reports that the United States recovered only the forward third of the Soviet submarine. But, the idea that this was the intelligence community's disinformation is highly plausible. As a former submariner, I like to read these type books. It is obvious the author did lots o Having followed the Glomar Explorer mission as it unfolded, I enjoyed this in-depth look at that mission. The idea that the K-129 was in the process of launching a nuclear missile at Hawaii is a scary thought. I have seen the reports that the United States recovered only the forward third of the Soviet submarine. But, the idea that this was the intelligence community's disinformation is highly plausible. As a former submariner, I like to read these type books. It is obvious the author did lots of research into this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Don LeClair

    I don't recall hearing this story when it came initially came out. I agree with the comment from another review that it could have done with a little more editing. However, it was a fascinating read and he seems to have come up with a story that matches the available facts. If we really were that close to a nuclear bomb on Hawaii, we were remarkably fortunate that it turned out the way it. He spends a lot of time describing the rationale for secrecy for both the US and the USSR on the whole topi I don't recall hearing this story when it came initially came out. I agree with the comment from another review that it could have done with a little more editing. However, it was a fascinating read and he seems to have come up with a story that matches the available facts. If we really were that close to a nuclear bomb on Hawaii, we were remarkably fortunate that it turned out the way it. He spends a lot of time describing the rationale for secrecy for both the US and the USSR on the whole topic. Somehow the story doesn't really have a great rationalization why the US won't tell more of the story all these years later. It leaves me thinking that something is missing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bill C

    Hard to believe and hard to ignore This is a disturbing book. I acknowledge that there are bad actors in world politics. But I find it hard to accept that so many came so close to causing WWIII. So let's say the authors are half right, what do we take away? What I took away is that we are too trusting of our elected leaders. What has to supported is a free and independent media collection. A free press is our best defense from over teaching ambitions and devious behavior.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Glen Leavens

    I was stunned having been to Pearl Harbor and also having been alive in 1968. It would have been a very different world if this attack was successful. Early in 1968 a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine sank in the waters off Hawaii, hundreds of miles closer to American shores than it should have been. Compelling evidence, assembled here for the first time, strongly suggests that the sub, K-129, sank while attempting to fire a nuclear missile, most likely at the naval base at Pearl Harbor.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Randy

    A thrilling account based on 25% fact and 75% conjecture. I do appreciate the author's thorough attempts at research, but the story definitely feels exaggerated for dramatic effect. I also hated the 100% fictional vignettes about the Russians onboard K-129, especially the part when even the most devoted godless Soviet Commies prayed to god during the catastrophe. The whole "no atheists in foxholes" thing sounds so old-timey and tribal. Give me a break.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ellison

    In 1968 a Russian submarine left port with extra unidentified crewmen and disappeared. The United States eventually searches for and finds the blown apart craft. It is determined a Nuke plan failed. What could have happened is shared. This is along-winded telling of how the Russian War Machine operates, as I listened I wondered if a 007-type situation occurred. Occasional insight.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pete

    As the author points out there is very little hard evidence dealing with the incident involving the K-129. Even though the majority of this book is conjecture it is still an entertaining and interesting read as it gives one an idea of how much suspicion and paranoia existed during the Cold War.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danny Stevens

    Conspiracy theorist book with some big fish stories.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Civitas Pacem

    Interesting and well written account of a cold war era incident

  29. 5 out of 5

    Yael

    Mr. Sewell has wedded a number of conjectures to Soviet operational procedures and human-interest details to advance a frightening scenario that in 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine attempted to launch a nuclear missile at Pearl Harbor. The central thesis behind his assertion of a rogue launch is his claim that the sub went down at 163º W Longitude, 24º N Latitude. This is critical since the K-129 was armed with three SS-N-5 Serb missiles with a range of approximately 760 nautical miles. Pearl Harb Mr. Sewell has wedded a number of conjectures to Soviet operational procedures and human-interest details to advance a frightening scenario that in 1968, a rogue Soviet submarine attempted to launch a nuclear missile at Pearl Harbor. The central thesis behind his assertion of a rogue launch is his claim that the sub went down at 163º W Longitude, 24º N Latitude. This is critical since the K-129 was armed with three SS-N-5 Serb missiles with a range of approximately 760 nautical miles. Pearl Harbor is 327 nautical miles from the claimed sinking site, well within the range of the Serb missile. If the sub sank at the official claimed site of 180º Longitude, 40º N Latitude, it would be more than 800 nautical miles short of the presumed target. Sewell claims to have uncovered previously unknown facts about the rapid resupply and hasty departure of the K-129 from its base on the Kamchatka Pennisula, and "extra" last minute crew additions. The basic thesis of this book is that the submarine was part of a secret plot by an inner "cabal" within the highest levels of Soviet Government (centered around Mikhail Suslov, a close confidant of the late Josef Stalin, and Yuri Andropov), hidden from Premier Leonid Brezhnev. The plot was to have K-129 emulate a Chinese Golf I submarine (an earlier transfer from the USSR before the split with China) and launch a one megaton nuclear missile toward Pearl Harbor. The purpose was to precipitate a nuclear exchange between the US and China, removing the Chinese threat to the USSR, and, simultaneously, permitting Soviet troops to move south into China, establishing a Soviet hegemony in Asia. The resulting geopolitical shift would have left the USSR in a much stronger position (and possibly promote leadership change to the hard-liner Suslov cabal). The book describes the submarine's frantic last minute crew changes and probable steps along the way on the voyage towards Hawaii, and the recovery of parts of the wrecked submarine some six years later by the Glomar Explorer. The submarine apparently failed to broadcast scheduled mandatory radio checks, and ended up quite far from its assigned patrol area. The authors speculate that a nuclear fail-safe system led to an aborted launch and missile explosion, resulting in the sinking of the K-129 in 16,400 feet of water. There is much acrimonious debate concerning the veracity of Sewell's claims and the reasonableness of his conjectures concerning the K-129. The book makes one hell of a good read, though, every bit as good as a Tom Clancy suspense novel, and touches on aspects of the Cold War that most aren't aware of now, hence is a useful historical resource, if only for the direction it gives the interested reader. Frankly, it scared the socks off me -- I was born at the end of World War II and grew up during the Cold War, and it reminded me all over again just how close the world came to eating the nuclear Big One any number of times. It's worth the time and effort to read it, though whether the reader wants to acquire it for his or her personal library will be a personal matter.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Mao when you open windows let in flies, March 1968 Pearl Harbor K129 300 miles out, while 17K/year Vietnam riots Scorpion sub down failing soviet economy 3 extra crew after shortened break plus 11 unknown, 3 blasts recorded, sharing failsafe technology since Eisenhower, protect against unintended use, 40 ships in search radioactive oil slick found by University that gained 2 research ships, singular action rogue as no other offensive or defensive, explosion caused skeletal remains, precise latit Mao when you open windows let in flies, March 1968 Pearl Harbor K129 300 miles out, while 17K/year Vietnam riots Scorpion sub down failing soviet economy 3 extra crew after shortened break plus 11 unknown, 3 blasts recorded, sharing failsafe technology since Eisenhower, protect against unintended use, 40 ships in search radioactive oil slick found by University that gained 2 research ships, singular action rogue as no other offensive or defensive, explosion caused skeletal remains, precise latitude and longitude, not hydrogen gas explosion, era of Johnny Walker Red leaks till 85 perhaps codes to sink Scorpion or torpedo malfunction, 66 Mao shifted leadership Moscow to Beijing and speech, KGB more lawless than Gestapo, 50-70 in forward compartments vs 15, 14KGB special ops unit, China with 2 similar and uranium, Andropov and red professor Suslov, Nixon and Kissinger nsa advisor gate keeper to Nixon with benefits to China and open policy and soviet intel triangular diplomacy threaten collusion with 3rd, Brezhnev and military vs kgb hardliners, Howard Hughes and cia Dave Packard used for ocean mining, tube1 door open and skeletal remains, salvage steel subs in Baltic, turned tide in cold war, Jennifer project, in 92-94 Gates gave flag of 6 buried at sea and bell, Kursk sank in 2000, 98 courage medals given and memorial, both sides agree not to address, economic collapse delayed by 61 oil wells peaked with 500 ships, now 75US nucsubs 65Russian 64China 225others diesel 50NKorea 3Iran 3Libya.

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