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In the tradition of the bestselling Blind Man’s Bluff (PublicAffairs 1998), which sold over two million copies worldwide, W. Craig Reed, a former navy diver and fast-attack submariner, delivers a riveting non-fiction thriller narrative about the secret underwater struggle between the US and the USSR, and reveals previously undisclosed details about the most dangerous, daring and decorated missions of the Cold War.
RED NOVEMBER is filled with hair-raising personal stories and “behind-the-scenes” information that fans of military narratives and techno-thrillers will love. Reed served aboard two submarines involved in Cold War espionage operations. His father spearheaded the deployment of a top secret submarine detection system that played a pivotal role in preventing four Soviet submarines from firing nuclear torpedoes on U.S. ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In this fascinating popular history, Reed pulls back the curtain on the most confidential elements of America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union: the underwater battles and espionage operations that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war numerous times. As a former submariner and navy diver, Reed is the first author to obtain in-depth interviews from dozens of Navy SEALS and divers, espionage operatives, submariners and government officials on both sides (including top Russian sub commanders) about top secret Azorian, Ivy Bells, Boresight, Bulls Eye and Holystone operations. Many of these sailors and operatives signed twenty to forty-year “gag” orders preventing them from divulging information about their missions. Through in-depth research and his own first-hand experience, Reed sheds new light on the most harrowing missions of the Cold War. Much like a Tom Clancy thriller, RED NOVEMBER transcends traditional naval and espionage accounts and gives us a much more immediate and personal version of the story of our longest and most expensive underwater war.
In March 2009, beyond the frosted windows of an arthritic building in downtown Saint Petersburg, Russia, a callous wind forced its will upon millions of helpless snowflakes. Inside the hotel ballroom, hundreds of Russians ignored the weather as they laughed, danced, hugged and drank. Vodka flowed. Music blared and platters of food beckoned. I stood at my table as a husky man with playful eyes and Santa cheeks approached. He beamed and introduced himself as Sergei. He said he once served as the commander of a Soviet submarine and told me that NATO codenamed his class of boat the “Victor-III.” He asked if I recognized this name. I smiled and said that my submarine, the USS Drum, had once come too close to such a boat near Vladivostok.
Eyes wide, Sergei took two steps backward. “K-324?”
“Yes,” I said. “K-324.”
Sergei reached his stubby arms around my shoulders and gave me a bear hug. In my ear he said, “You should be dead.”
I nodded and said nothing.
Sergei pointed at a shiny pin on my lapel.
“U.S. Navy diver,” I said.
His eyes lit up again as he tapped a similar emblem on his Russian Navy uniform. He unhooked his pin and attached it to my shirt. I did the same for him. Sergei then grabbed two glasses and filled each with a shot of vodka.
He handed one to me and in broken English quoted an old Russian proverb, “After a storm there is fair weather, after sorrow there is joy.”
I clicked my glass against his and downed the burning liquid. Before me, and all around me, were former enemies. Submariners who once pointed the barrels of their guns at my head, fingers poised and aims steady. Now, with the passage of time, at an annual Russian event that honors submariners, we laughed and joked about our escapades from decades past.
In Russia, submariners are revered and respected as their profession is considered dangerous; their sacrifice worthy of praise. For this select group of volunteers, camaraderie runs as deep as their vessels. None care about nationalities, creeds or skin color. That night, dozens of former submariners treated me as a brother among brothers. Even though we were strangers, whose governments once fought as enemies, we greeted each other with firm handshakes, warm hugs and broad smiles. I felt honored and humbled.
After dinner, a small group of submariners walked to the dance floor. Side by side they raised their glasses and voices as they sang a Russian submariner’s song. Though I didn’t understand the words, I felt the meaning touch the deepest part of my soul. More and more submariners joined the throng as the voices reached a crescendo. Tears filled my eyes. Words can never do justice to the feelings that overcame me when I stood alongside my brothers and toasted all submariners, especially those lost at sea who now serve “on eternal patrol.”
As I left the event, I wondered if those who consider themselves enemies today could do as we had done that night. Lay down their swords and find a common bond. I realized that until that day, there could be no fair winds, and many in the world were destined to remain captured by the storms of sorrow.
“This is an astonishing and important book. With its new disclosures about covert submarine operations during the Cold War, and especially its eye-opening account of what really happened at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Red November is a book that anyone with an interest in espionage or clandestine naval operations should read.”
—George Friedman, author of America’s Secret War and The Next 100 Years
“If Tom Clancy had turned The Hunt for Red October into a nonfiction thriller, W. Craig Reed’s Red November might be the result. Here is the full-throttle and riveting story of espionage, secret missions, and the never-before-told tales of submariners on the front lines of a clandestine war. Not to be missed!”
— James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Doomsday Key and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
“Red November delivers the real life feel and fears of submariners who risked their lives to keep the peace. Smart, detailed, and highly entertaining, this is a story everyone should read. I live in a submarine town and I can tell you, men who live underwater for 90 days at time, ferrying nuclear weapons, are unsung heroes. My hat is off to Craig Reed for telling their story.“
— Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Vendetta and The Charlemagne Pursuit
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