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Stalins Silver

Beasant, John

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ISBN 10: 0747527741 / ISBN 13: 9780747527749
Published by Trafalgar Square, 1996
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Stalins Silver

Publisher: Trafalgar Square

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

About this title


On the night of August 28, 1944, three torpedoes from the German submarine U-859 sank the American merchant ship "USS John Barry" in the Arabian sea off the eastern seaboard of Oman. The holds of the "John Barry" contained over $300 million in silver bullion. The 7200-ton ship broke into two pieces and sank to a depth of 8500 feet, more than one and a half miles. For 45 years the great depth of the wreck ruled out any thoughts of salvage. However, in 1989 salvage rights were acquired by Sheikh Ahmed Farid al Aulaqi who engaged the French International Maritime Institute and Jean Roux, leader of the team which recovered artefacts from the "Titanic". Roux and his team have developed technology which has resulted in an operation of deep sea recovery never before possible. In this book, the story of the "USS John Barry" is recreated with the help of living survivors, including one of the German U-boat officers, and the intricate politics behind the US Government's decision to send $300 million of silver to Bombay is investigated.


On August 28, 1944, the German submarine U859 sank the U.S. merchant vessel John Barry off the coast of Saudi Arabia. Although the Germans did not know it, the John Barry carried a rich cargo not only of war material but also of silver bullion, whose present value, journalist John Beasant estimates, is about $300 million. The silver was, according to the ship's manifest, bound for British India. It had, however, a destination beyond that. The silver bullion was meant for the Soviet Union as part of Franklin Roosevelt's lend-lease program, through which some $1.5 billion worth of American supplies were delivered to Josef Stalin's government. Roosevelt, Beasant writes, was not shy about publicizing the delivery of steel and weaponry to his Communist ally, but he reckoned the delivery of precious metals and gems to be politically sensitive, and the John Barry's mission was thus shrouded in secrecy. Beasant's recounting of this complicated story involves many strands of narrative; among these are the tangled history of the lend-lease program, the role of the merchant marine in World War II, the dangerous work of U-boat crews, and the techniques of deep-sea salvage. Beasant unravels the mystery not only of the secret transfer of funds from Washington to Moscow, but also of the search for the John Barry's treasure, much of it recovered in the early 1990s. --Gregory McNamee

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