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PAST IS PROLOGUE An eye on history.


THIS MONTH IN HISTORY | Jan. 21, 1968 The North Vietnamese army attacked Khe Sanh Combat Base 50 years ago. Two Marine Corps regiments defended the base for six months, supported by the Air Force and Army, then destroyed it and withdrew.


PAGES OF HISTORY


THE TAKING OF K-129 By Josh Dean. Dutton, 2017. $28. ISBN 978- 1-101-98443-7.


Pacific Ocean in February 1968, the Russians could not find it. But the Americans did, and the discovery launched the CIA’s most complex, suspenseful six-year covert recovery opera- tion — and the Russians did not have a clue. Journalist Josh Dean tells the amazing story of Project Azorian, an expensive, super-se- cret salvage of the 1,500-ton K-129 from 17,000 feet down in


W 34 | MILITARY OFFICER | January 2018


hen Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-129 sank in the


the sea. He carefully describes intricate intelligence collection and analysis and a massive counter-intelligence cover story, involving reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, to confuse and misdirect the Soviets. K-129 was a Golf-class sub-


marine carrying three nucle- ar-tipped ballistic missiles. It mysteriously sank 1,560 miles northwest of Hawaii. Dean masterfully describes Navy and CIA surveillance of the Soviets’ frantic but futile search. After the Soviets gave up, the Amer-


icans realized it would be a colossal Cold War intelligence coup to locate and salvage the sub and its missiles. However, it would be a touchy challenge not only to find and raise the K-129, but also to keep the Soviets — or anyone else — from finding out. The story reads like a Cold


War thriller as Dean tells how the CIA assembled scientists, engineers, spies, and sub and salvage experts to plan the recovery. The cover story in- volved a fake seabed mining exploration operation headed by


PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES


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