Braden, Nate 1968-
Braden, Nate 1968-
Born December 31, 1968.
Office—America and the World, Inc., 535 16th St., Ste. 320, Denver, CO 80202. E-mail—[email protected]
Linguist and writer. Military service: U.S. Marines, officer.
(With Gregory D. Young) The Last Sentry: The True Story That Inspired the Hunt for Red October, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, MD), 2005.
A former U.S. Marine intelligence officer and a Russian linguist, Nate Braden is the author, with Gregory D. Young, a retired U.S. Naval officer, of The Last Sentry: The True Story That Inspired the Hunt for Red October. The Hunt for Red October is the title of a novel by Tom Clancy and the 1990 feature film based on the novel. In the book and the film, the captain of a Russian nuclear submarine defects and tries to take the submarine to the United States to prevent the Russians from using the ship to launch a nuclear war against the United States. In their book, the authors tell the true story that Clancy drew from for his novel. Clancy first came across the story while conducting research for a novel at the U.S. Naval Academy Library. The true tale was originally told by Young in his master's thesis while attending the U.S. Naval Academy.
In their updated version of Young's thesis, Braden and Young provide an account of a disillusioned Soviet Navy officer named Valery Sablin who led a mutiny aboard the Russian destroyer Storozhevoy, which means "Sentry." This new account of the entire story was made possible because of newly declassified documents from the KGB, the intelligence services of the Soviet Union. In addition, the authors gained access to Sablin family documents.
The authors provide a chronological account of the events as they unfold as well as the events that prompted the incident. As the story progresses, readers learn that Captain Sablin had a bright future in the Soviet Navy and had been given the important task of indoctrinating his crew in Communist Party principles. Sablin, however, turned out to be a disillusioned idealist. He convinced half of the Sentry officers and almost all of its sailors to seize control of the ship. "Young and Braden try to portray their protagonist in a sympathetic light," wrote Michael Peck on the Military Channel Web site. "Some readers will see Sablin as a fallen hero in the struggle against communism. Yet it is important to remember that Sablin was a genuine communist. He was not a saint. He lied to the Storozhevoy's crew to secure their cooperation. He gambled the lives of 150 men in a hopeless plan."
In their book, the authors detail how Sablin and his crew were not intending to sail to Sweden or the United States to seek asylum, as some Western intelligence observers thought and as portrayed in The Hunt for Red October. Instead, they were intent on ultimately starting a revolution to overthrow the Soviet regime and install another Marxist regime more loyal to the ideas of the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. As a result, they set sail to Leningrad to overthrow Leonid Brezhnev, who was then leader of the Soviet Union. Ultimately, Sablin and his crew were stopped by a 500-pound bomb dropped on the ship. Sablin was later executed.
"Surprisingly, his [Sablin's] was the only life lost in the mutiny and its aftermath, though one confederate served six years in prison and in labor camps, and 12 got dishonorable discharges," wrote Daniel Ford in a review of The Last Sentry in the Wall Street Journal. The ship itself, or possibly one that looked just like it since the ship had been severely damaged, was used by the government to prove that any rumors about a mutiny were false. Ultimately, the ship was sent to Siberia to rusticate and then sold for scrap metal to India. The book includes sixteen pages of black-and-white photos and maps.
"Though Sablin's story is exciting to read, it is particularly valuable for the insights it provides into the conditions that existed in Brezhnev's empire," wrote Ronald E. Powaski in the Historian, adding that the book "is an impressively researched, clearly written, and balanced assessment of a significant event in Soviet history." Referring to The Last Sentry as a "gripping tale," Roland Green wrote in his review in Booklist that the historical account is a "vivid portrait of the Soviet navy at its height."
Braden told CA: "William Manchester influenced my work. A master storyteller and meticulous researcher, he taught me how important context is to a story (or at least to a historical narrative). Like me, he served in the Marines, and his memoir of the Pacific War, Goodbye, Darkness, is proof positive that really good writing always has a basis in the author's experience. I try to apply that to my writing as well.
"My writing process involves getting to know a story first. Research it well enough to immerse yourself in the narrative and master the details. Put something to paper, no matter how bad or contrived you think it sounds now. You have to start somewhere to get the juices flowing, and you can always go back and change what you wrote later.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that the real work of writing comes in the revisions.
"My latest project is a biography of Smedley Butler, a Marine who won two Medals of Honor. In his day he was probably the most famous man in uniform—the New York Times alone wrote over 200 articles about him—but he was also one of the most controversial. In retirement he tacked hard left and described himself as a "racketeer for capitalism." Here was the most decorated American serviceman alive, a hero to his Corps and country, denouncing that service and flirting with Communism. In 1934 he testified before Congress that a Wall Street bond salesman had offered him 18,000 dollars in cash to lead a veterans' paramilitary group in an attempt to overthrow President Roosevelt. As bad as things were in the Depression, such a plot might have succeeded had Butler not been an ardent supporter of democracy and faithful in his oath to support the Constitution. It is a fascinating exploration into the nature of loyalty and patriotism.
"Above all, I just want to tell a good story; something that grabs the reader's attention and holds it. I love writing about the past because there are so many answers to be found there. I try to connect the events of yesterday with the issues of today in an effort to show people why history is always relevant."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Air & Space Power Journal, winter, 2006, Gilles Van Nederveen, review of The Last Sentry: The True Story That Inspired the Hunt for Red October, p. 113.
Booklist, May 15, 2005, Green Roland, review of The Last Sentry, p. 1633.
Historian, winter, 2006, Ronald E. Powaski, review of The Last Sentry.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2005, review of The Last Sentry.
Russian Review, April, 2006, review of The Last Sentry.
Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2005, Daniel Ford, "The Story behind Red October."
Coloradobook.org,http://www.coloradobook.org/ (March 28, 2008), brief profile of author.
Military Channel,http://military.discovery.com/ (March 28, 2008), Michael Peck, review of The Last Sentry.