Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Taking of K-129

I picked up this new book mostly for the subtitle: How the CIA used Howard Hughes to steal a Russian Sub in the most covert operation in history. Non-fiction is non-fiction. Hopefully it's informative and engaging, but rarely is it earth shattering. I loved this book, though. This isn't one I was paid to read and it doesn't offer any real insight into life and purpose - it's just fun.

Rarely do you find a piece of history so interesting that's not already in the common knowledge. A few books have been written about Operation Azorian, but it was all new to me. In 1968 a Russian nuclear sub had an accident and sunk, mostly intact, in 17,000 feet of North Pacific water.
The US wanted to recover the nukes and any coding information on board and thus concocted a crazy scheme to essentially invent a whole slew of new technology and build a huge, experimental ship, strictly for this purpose.

We could get caught up in the follies of war or the economics of spending $250m in 1970s dollars for such a project, but I'd rather just focus on the well-written, enthralling history of this unlikely mission. Josh Dean gives detail, but not so much as to bog the story down. He gives background that's interesting and mostly leaves out what's not. It's a pretty dense 450 pages, but they fly by with great anticipation. Chapters are short, and it reads like a novel.

Being a real story, the ending is a bit of a letdown, but there's great joy in discovering and learning about a really fascinating piece of history. I didn't really have a blog post topic for today I was excited about, but if even four or five of you pick up this book, the time and space will be worth it. I think a lot of my regular readers would really appreciate The Taking of K-129.

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