Operation Ivy Bells

  • by Robert G. Williscroft
  • Narrated by Mark Budwill
  • 12 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Winning the Cold War is in the balance.
A super-secret, off-the-books spy organization; a security-clearance starting at top secret and going up from there; an attack by giant squid during a 1,000-foot dive while breathing an exotic gas; a cat's whisker escape from death during a three-day decompression - and that's just the first two chapters of Operation Ivy Bells before the action really gets underway.
Blending personal experience and real-world events in a fictional wrapping, Operation Ivy Bells offers a never-before-seen glimpse of these heroic men fearlessly facing death to gather the intel that tipped the scales to win the Cold War.

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Customer Reviews

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I hated that this story had to end

I will say right up front – I hated that this story had to end. Operation Ivy Bells is wonderful!

Operation Ivy Bells is an exciting piece of fiction/non-fiction. Robert Williscroft led a saturation team that faced terrible odds at times and were also hell raisers – a certain Russian Submarine Commander could attest to that! In the first few chapters, Lt. Mac McDowall and his saturation team face giant squids, a near death experience and live to torment a soviet commander. During the cold war, Mac and his team of divers must do what no one else has even considered – diving to depths of 1,000 feet, riding the ocean floor during a major storm and within 500 feet of a soviet submarine and more is a story that everyone should hear.

This book is full of excitement and twists – I named only a few. You have to read it to hear more and it is WORTH it!

Williscroft writes such an intense story that one cannot even begin to tell what is truth and what is fictionalized. I was amazed at several things in this story. The first being that he was able to relay technical information in an informative manner but also interesting – who would have thought going to the restroom on a submarine could be deadly? Or that a submarine crew must be aware of water density, depth, and that every sound can be deadly? The second is not being able to tell what is truth and what is not – for instance, who is to say there are no giant squid that undulates in color? The news is full of new sea creatures (giant and otherwise) being discovered. Third, his writing demonstrated just how deadly yet exciting being 500 – 1000 feet below the water can be.

Williscroft’s writing style is excellent. The technical aspect of the operation of a submarine and divers was very realistic – AND interesting. The story flowed, the character development was executed perfectly and the plot was a complete piece of work. In other words, there were no holes anywhere. I hope to hear more by Williscroft in the future. This is definitely a story that will appeal to those who are into conspiracy theories, spies and espionage and a good piece of fiction!

Mark Budwell did a wonderful job of narrating the story. His voices were excellent and indicated just the right amount of intenseness and excitement. He was perfect for this book!

There were no issues with the audio production.

Audiobook provided for review by the author.

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- AudioBook Reviewer "All of my reviews are on my blog audiobookreviewer dot com"

Submarines and Secrets


Winning the Cold War is in the balance. A super-secret, off-the-books spy organization; a security-clearance starting at top secret and going up from there; an attack by giant squid during a 1,000-foot dive while breathing an exotic gas; a cat's whisker escape from death during a three-day decompression - and that's just the first two chapters of Operation Ivy Bells before the action really gets underway. Blending personal experience and real-world events in a fictional wrapping, Operation Ivy Bells offers a never-before-seen glimpse of these heroic men fearlessly facing death to gather the intel that tipped the scales to win the Cold War.

Although this book is classified as fiction, it is based so heavily on personal experience that it reads more like a memoir, or, perhaps, the literary version of a docudrama. For those who, as I do, love anything involving ships and sailing, (above or below the water) this is a gold mine of information and provides an insightful and fascinating view of life on a submarine, at its most calm and at its most frantic.

There is a lot of technical information, but the author skillfully presents it so that even this landlubber understands enough to follow what is being done, how and why. I found that, perhaps because the subject interests me, the wealth of technical information did not make the book drag, but this is not a thriller, at least in the traditional sense.

When things happen, though, they happen very quickly, but, because the author has prepared the ground very well, he can present the action with tension and immediacy, not having to stop the flow for explanations.

In contrast to the technicalities involved, the author presents the characters in very human ways, and we come to see then, not as moving parts of a demonstration of submarine operations but as individuals. There are some very moving moments, and a good bit of humor, especially in the interactions between the characters, and the author captures the way a good team works together very nicely. Granted I occasionally thought that the main character (drawn from the author’s personal career and experience) seemed a bit *too* smart and versatile in solving problems, but perhaps the author is simply describing his actions, and the character is never too quick to take credit for his accomplishments. He is a team player, and often, ideas spark from the team, and he is able to combine them in some unique ways.

The story itself is amazing, more so because it is based on actual events. Again, the meticulous description of what the divers did, and how they did what they did enhances the story and gives in immediacy.

I found this narrator’s voice extremely pleasant, and enjoyed listening to his narration. He has an extremely low key, calm style, yet he is able to differentiate his characters well, and has good expression, though it is expressed in subtle ways. Very occasionally, I wondered if his style was a little too soothing, but then he would have to change his presentation slightly to accommodate the text. By the end of the book, I decided that he was perfect for this sort of book, and would probably excel at any nonfiction.

Because this book was so thorough and so well presented, I give this book 5 stars, though I do not recommend it for those looking for a traditional thriller. I also give the narrator 5 stars, because he was able to invest even the most technical passages with life and interest.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via the courtesy of AudioBookBlast dot com.

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- Shoshana Hathaway "blind Kindle TTS user"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-14-2015
  • Publisher: Starman Press