The Taking of K-129
An incredible true tale of espionage and engineering set at the height of the Cold War—a mix between The Hunt for Red October and Argo—about how the CIA, the U.S. Navy, and a crazy billionaire spent six years and nearly a billion dollars to steal the nuclear-armed Soviet submarine K-129 after it had sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean; all while the Russians were watching.In the early hours of February 25, 1968, a Russian submarine armed with three nuclear ballistic missiles set sail from its base in Siberia on a routine combat patrol to Hawaii. It never arrived. As the Soviet Navy searched in vain for the lost vessel, a top-secret American operation using sophisticated deep-sea spy equipment found it—wrecked on the sea floor at a depth of 16,800 feet, far beyond the capabilities of any salvage that existed. But the potential intelligence assets onboard the ship—the nuclear warheads, battle orders, and cryptological machines—justified going to extreme lengths to find a way to raise the submarine.So began Project Azorian, a top-secret mission that took six years, cost an estimated $800 million, and would become the largest and most daring covert operation in CIA history. After the U.S. Navy declared retrieving the sub “impossible,” the mission fell to the CIA's burgeoning Directorate of Science and Technology, the little-known division responsible for the legendary U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes. Working with Global Marine Systems, the country's foremost maker of exotic, deep-sea drill ships, the CIA commissioned the most expensive ship ever built and told the world that it belonged to the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, who would use the mammoth vessel to mine rare minerals from the ocean floor. In reality, a complex network of spies, scientists, and politicians attempted a project even crazier than Hughes’s reputation: raising the sub directly under the watchful eyes of the Russians. The Taking of K-129 is a riveting, almost unbelievable true-life tale of military history, engineering genius, and high-stakes spy-craft set during the height of the Cold War, when nuclear annihilation was a constant fear, and the opportunity to gain even the slightest advantage over your enemy was worth massive risk.

The Taking of K-129 Details

TitleThe Taking of K-129
Author
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherDutton
ISBN-139781101984437
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Spy Thriller, Espionage, War, Crime, True Crime

The Taking of K-129 Review

  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to DUTTON BOOKS for sending me this Goodreads give away. Fascinating information on behind the scenes government doings on country security and weapons. Author Josh Dean does a great job of bringing all the top secret ways of getting the job done. I really enjoyed the reading and recommend this book to all interested in our government way of working.
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  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    I found this a fascinating account. Even if you are skeptical, like me, and only believe half of it, or that only half was told, it's a good story. Think Mission Impossible on a tremendous scale. This quote sums it up. "Imagine standing atop the Empire State Building with an 8-foot-wide grappling hook on a 1-inch-diameter steel rope. Your task is to lower the hook to the street below, snag a compact car full of gold, and lift the car back to the top of the building. On top of that, the job has t I found this a fascinating account. Even if you are skeptical, like me, and only believe half of it, or that only half was told, it's a good story. Think Mission Impossible on a tremendous scale. This quote sums it up. "Imagine standing atop the Empire State Building with an 8-foot-wide grappling hook on a 1-inch-diameter steel rope. Your task is to lower the hook to the street below, snag a compact car full of gold, and lift the car back to the top of the building. On top of that, the job has to be done without anyone noticing. That, essentially,describes what the CIA did in Project AZORIAN, a highly secret six-year effort to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean floor during the Cold War."Lots of technical stuff, and it's even more amazing is that many of the calculations were done with paper and slide rule. Another quote "The simulator, like all of the major systems, ran on the most sophisticated computers available at that time. For the capture vehicle, that meant two redundant Honeywell 316s, each worth twenty-five thousand dollars and carrying sixteen kilobytes of hardwired memory in four thousand eight-bit boards."
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  • Lucy Meeker
    January 1, 1970
    A very good, informative book, thoroughly enjoyed it! Quick read, well told, and learned something new. A very interesting read and worth getting for any Cold War enthusiasts! I won a copy of this book in a goodreads giveaway.
  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks so much to Dutton for the copy in exchange for my honest review!Are you a fan of nonfiction? Espionage? Well, if you are, then you need to pick up Josh Dean's THE TAKING OF K-129. I personally LOVED this book. This is a topic that has always interested me. As a Political Science and International Relations major in college, this was what we focused on. My senior project was on espionage (specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis) and it always fascinates me to read about the lengths people w Thanks so much to Dutton for the copy in exchange for my honest review!Are you a fan of nonfiction? Espionage? Well, if you are, then you need to pick up Josh Dean's THE TAKING OF K-129. I personally LOVED this book. This is a topic that has always interested me. As a Political Science and International Relations major in college, this was what we focused on. My senior project was on espionage (specifically the Cuban Missile Crisis) and it always fascinates me to read about the lengths people would go to in order to complete a mission without detection.On February 25, 1968, there was a Russian submarine armed with nuclear ballistic missiles that was on a routine combat patrol to Hawaii from Siberia. That submarine never arrived to its destination. The Soviet Navy searched for the lost vessel with no luck, meanwhile, a highly classified and top secret American operation found it (with the help of highly sophisticated deep-sea spy equipment). Wrecked on the ocean floor at a depth of 16,800 feet, the CIA was determined to recover the vessel because it contained valuable information in the form of nuclear warheads, battle orders, and Russian cryptological machines.This was the birth of the Project Azorian - a top-secret mission that took over six years, cost around $800 million, and was the largest and most daring operation in CIA history. While this quickly became apparent that the CIA would have to go outside of the military to retrieve this sub (as the Navy deemed the mission to be impossible) they sought out the help of the Directorate of Science and Technology. They soon commissioned the most expensive ship ever built with Global Marine Systems. How were they going to covertly conceal this? Simple. The CIA said that it belonged to the eccentric and reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Why would he need this monstrosity? To mine rare minerals from the ocean floor, of course.This is definitely reminiscent of Argo. It will always amaze me the planning and attention to detail that goes into these types of missions. You never truly understand how many people are involved either - spies, scientists, politicians, and even Howard Hughes. The fact they were able to do this under the careful watch of the Soviets blows my mind.Overall, if you want to read about a great piece of American history, and espionage piques your interest, then you need to pick this one up! Remember, it is nonfiction, so it's very factual and not written like a suspense novel would. There is, however, lots of suspense.I give this 5/5 stars!
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  • Rick Presley
    January 1, 1970
    For fans of the Silent Service and CIA shenanigans, this is a must read. It tells the story of a CIA-funded venture to recover a downed Russian sub from the floor of the Pacific and is as gripping as anything Tom Clancy has written. All the more so because it is true.From my personal perspective it answers long-standing questions I've had since my childhood regarding deep ocean mining. I remember reading about the Glomar Explorer in school and all the excitement about underwater mining and have For fans of the Silent Service and CIA shenanigans, this is a must read. It tells the story of a CIA-funded venture to recover a downed Russian sub from the floor of the Pacific and is as gripping as anything Tom Clancy has written. All the more so because it is true.From my personal perspective it answers long-standing questions I've had since my childhood regarding deep ocean mining. I remember reading about the Glomar Explorer in school and all the excitement about underwater mining and have often wondered what became of that as a viable enterprise. This book answers the question, but not in the expected way. It was surprising to me to hear that the whole enterprise of deep ocean mining was a hoax and never intended to be the Glomar Explorer's objective. One of the things fans of CIA stories hear often is that the Agency never publicizes its successes. For obvious reasons. Even as the book closes, they are cagey about whether or not the endeavor was worth the amount of money expended. In the bigger picture of the Soviet Union's eventual collapse, maybe it was. But we may never know if it was as successful as the CIA hoped. I would highly recommend this delightful and sometimes puckish account of one of the greatest Hide-In-Plain-Sight operations the CIA has ever pulled off. It won't answer all your questions, but it will certainly provide you hours of gripping non-fiction that will thrill anyone with an interest in naval history, engineering, or the CIA.
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  • Roger Neyman
    January 1, 1970
    A well written history of the covert CIA operation to recover a sunk Soviet submarine. The book successfully weaves together telling the tale, and telling enough of the context and background to breathe a lot of life in to the primary tale. I listened to the audiobook, but think this would be a good read as well. The shortcoming lies, perhaps, more in the genre than in this particuar author, but I will share it anyway. The telling scrupulously avoids questioning the values and ethics of espionag A well written history of the covert CIA operation to recover a sunk Soviet submarine. The book successfully weaves together telling the tale, and telling enough of the context and background to breathe a lot of life in to the primary tale. I listened to the audiobook, but think this would be a good read as well. The shortcoming lies, perhaps, more in the genre than in this particuar author, but I will share it anyway. The telling scrupulously avoids questioning the values and ethics of espionage. By the end of the book, you gain some insight into why. The author has clearly established some relationships among the participants in the history and doesn't want to burn all the bridges he built.
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  • Robyn Fee
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Dutton Publishing and the author, Josh Dean, and to Leila Siddiqui at Penguin Random House for this amazing book of History. The research that went into this book had to be so fun. I loved the Hunt for Red October, which is why I knew I would love this book. The release date is September 5th and I would totally preorder this book or be first in line to buy it. I am so thankful for the advanced readers copy that I will cherish always. I did have to keep a dictionary close-by on this Thank you to Dutton Publishing and the author, Josh Dean, and to Leila Siddiqui at Penguin Random House for this amazing book of History. The research that went into this book had to be so fun. I loved the Hunt for Red October, which is why I knew I would love this book. The release date is September 5th and I would totally preorder this book or be first in line to buy it. I am so thankful for the advanced readers copy that I will cherish always. I did have to keep a dictionary close-by on this one ...actually not a dictionary but Google LOL you will not regret buying this one if you love history... I do have an obsession for submarines
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  • Lee Harding
    January 1, 1970
    This was a prepub late review book for me.That being said, WOW!Normally in a book with this much technical history one would assume a dry factual tome, but this was a heckuva ride from the start to the end.This is what made America great when men with brains extended their capabilities to the outer edge of technological achievement and just made things work.Spycraft at advent of computers. Spycraft with all the cutting edge tools of the 1970s (the time when i was a teenager).Kudos to the author This was a prepub late review book for me.That being said, WOW!Normally in a book with this much technical history one would assume a dry factual tome, but this was a heckuva ride from the start to the end.This is what made America great when men with brains extended their capabilities to the outer edge of technological achievement and just made things work.Spycraft at advent of computers. Spycraft with all the cutting edge tools of the 1970s (the time when i was a teenager).Kudos to the author for detail, fascination and a deft hand at making labyrinthine detail organized, compelling and readable!Just an amazing tale of an amazing time.
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  • Daniel Ligon
    January 1, 1970
    A detailed account of a fascinating Cold War story. The events of this book seem to be largely lost in the haze of time, even aside from the fact that many of the details were classified for many years or still are kept secret. Author Josh Dean weaves together a narrative that seems at times almost a bit too Clive Cussler like to be true, but these are nonetheless historical events. It seems incredible that the United States would spend hundreds of millions of dollars and six years on a project A detailed account of a fascinating Cold War story. The events of this book seem to be largely lost in the haze of time, even aside from the fact that many of the details were classified for many years or still are kept secret. Author Josh Dean weaves together a narrative that seems at times almost a bit too Clive Cussler like to be true, but these are nonetheless historical events. It seems incredible that the United States would spend hundreds of millions of dollars and six years on a project that was given perhaps a 40% chance of success and had a worst case scenario of escalating the Cold War into a hot war and ending the world as we know it. Perhaps this project was evidence of the economic, industrial, and technological strength of America that eventually contributed to the Soviet Union's downfall.If this book has a weakness, it's that Josh Dean occasionally chases rabbit trails in his passion for detail. Perhaps this book could have done with a bit more editing and a more concise account, but it is still fascinating and very readable, as long as you don't mind getting engrossed in many different aspects of Cold War history. I found this book both enjoyable and very informative and can recommend it to anyone interested in Cold War history.I received a digital copy of this book for free from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are entirely my own.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Amazing story well researchedThe beginning of deepwater drilling. Fascinating to read about Global Marine especially as I was merger advisor to Santa Fe
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