Approaching the crescendo of the Cold War, two world superpowers exchanged a pair of spies on a bridge in Berlin separating East from West. The date is February 10, 1962. The weather has recently turned from snow to a mere cloudy, symbolic of a temporary thaw in US-Soviet relations that will allow them to make this gesture before descending into the madness that was the nuclear race with weapons.
At the time, according to the author, Giles Wheeler, the two ideological enemies had only ten ICD nuclear warheads. Before the Cold War is over thirty years later, they will have tens of thousands. Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex appears to have been ignored. During the Spy Bridge, the Spy Bridge shows that the basis of the war is laid, which fortunately has never become a reality. He was fighting in the shadows. Giles expertly peels off layers of onion cubes to shed light on the fears that each side had on the other.
Enter the stage left, William Fisher, a spy on a rather curious ancestral line from Russia. From Germany, he entered Canada via a passenger liner in Quebec City under one of many alleged names. The date is November 1948. The Soviets are lagging far behind in nuclear technology, and since the time of Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project, they have been frantically spying on Americans to equalize. Fisher's job is to recruit and create a network of spies throughout the United States, since the last group of Russian spies was discovered and forwarded (Klaus Fuchs and Rosenberg executed). William Fisher is a cool spy. It is mainly concerned with establishing deep cover and maintaining it at all costs. He has been doing very little actual spying for years. It seems quite convenient to keep his cover as an artist in New York, retired after making an audition in the finishing business. The author points out that since no one has done more than half an odul for finishing photos so far, his cover should have been suspected at first sight.
This reminds me of two Nazi spies who landed on a submarine in Gaspe, Quebec during World War II. They lasted all of about fifteen minutes. They walked into a small hotel in the middle of nowhere and demanded a room. Paying in a long, outdated currency, they went into the room for the much needed vacation. The Bureau clerk could not imagine where these two "business travelers" came from. Did they really pull out their suitcases from the neighboring village, as they said, after arriving on foot and packing diesel? She immediately called the mountains. William Fisher should have been similarly discovered by his neighbors, whom he entertained with contradictory stories about his past, but they inadvertently challenged him with what people invented themselves as a whole: a person without achievements invents them to impress others . No matter that he was obviously a liar of many conflicting stories, he was well known and deeply shared their interest in the arts. His only contact in America, which cultivates on barren soil, was Reyno Haikhanen, a supporter of wet troubles if the discussion of the ban was to resume.
Enter to the right of the scene, Francis Gary Powers, a young Air Force pilot approaching the CIA to fly intelligence missions over Soviet airspace. At this point, the US has a Strategic Bomber Command, large bombers, constantly maintained and ready to fly over the North Pole to deliver nuclear bombs for hypothetical Russian targets. The Russians soon align themselves with nuclear bomb technology and leap forward with ballistic missiles capable of crossing the continents in minutes. America is panicking and desperately needs to know how many missiles the Tips have and where they are. The US has developed a U2 aircraft capable of flying at 70,000 feet, well above Russian fighter's ability to intercept. They need the best pilots in the country to fly long missions over hostile territory by shooting rocket launchers. For various reasons, it is not practical to require the CIA to develop a spy network in the Soviet Union. This is the only avenue of approach open to them and probably the most reliable.
Forces of very humble origin in Virginia are being offered an astounding thirty thousand dollars to fly to the CIA. Anyone who knows the US will recognize the lure of many disadvantaged Americans. In today's money that would be equivalent to about half a million a year. The work consists mainly of training missions. Any entry into hostile airspace must be endorsed by the president, so there are few flights over Russia. The real enemy becomes the boredom and treacherous sweeps of the jealous mind of wives who cannot accompany them to the remote airbases in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
Another key character in this drama is the inanimate, so to speak – U2 itself. Wittel expertly describes the development of the aircraft needed to fly over intercepting Russian MIGs. Indeed, the reader needs basic knowledge of aviation, but the author opens this door to marketers for school readers. He tells us why the aircraft was required to fly at these altitudes, why U2 had so little thin air control, why the engine had to be extremely powerful to keep it one step away from orbit, why the distance between the stall speeds and exceeding the acceleration at these altitudes required the aircraft to be driven only by autopilot, and why a pilot saving seventy thousand feet was not expected to survive. Drop the parachute at this height and the human body, kept under pressure by an inflated elastic pressure suit, was expected to explode due to the expansion of gases in the blood stream and flesh. During the tests, open skin, which was not removed from the suit, exploded until the planes reached high altitude. Imagine an astronaut without his suit strolling through space. The result will be instant red and brown poopnado , U2 pilots may not have been able to predict such images, but they are more likely to suppress them, which allows their subconscious to create a widespread crisis of fear of their existence, perhaps the reason for many ropes is the death of the walker
The canvas on which this drama unfolds has also been drawn to perfection. Giles dispassionately tells us about two powerful and formidable rivals trying to impress each other with filmed demonstrations of an open fusion blast that serve as a warning of the power of 100 megatons and the risks of an open war between two hostile giants. Whittell takes a separate perspective necessary to understand the folly of humanity and how close we are to the insane act of self-ignition. Having input from Sergei Khrushchev, the son of the former secretary general, is invaluable. The distance from 50 years ago is the same.
In this work, we look at contemporary political systems: the Soviet Union, led by dogmatic social engineers who willingly sacrifice thousands in the gulags to shape human behavior, adopting the concept of self-denial for the better good of the state. Imagine, if you will, the peasant responsible for this experiment with the bombastic personality and vacuum intelligence of Russian Donald Trump, who tends to take off his shoes at the United Nations and knock them on the desk as the ultimate force of his articulation. The village leader claims that the Soviet Union produces ICBM as sausages and will bury the United States. See a map of the Soviet Union. You can place three complete United States in its territory. To prove or disprove the Soviet Union has launch sites ready to destroy the US at one time, a remark would be a daunting task, so the aggressive Khrushchev must be taken to his word. Hence the need for excessive flights.
The other side is essentially a class system run by lottery winners in the capitalist struggle for individual supremacy. Their leader, John F. Kennedy, was the recluse of one of the more successful, morally ambiguous profits. John F. Kennedy jokes that his father asked him exactly how many votes were needed to win the 1960 election, since he was too cheap to pay for a landslide. It is of little importance that the American proletariat wants to play a game with a lost chance of becoming a bourgeoisie. The seductive mirage of wealth, the freedom to choose to jump or not jump on the exercise wheel are the most important. This right is even defensible like Gary Powers to death, even if it means destroying the planet. America is an industrial giant after World War II, and the average citizen is far better off because of the free flow of capital and the credit system. They will protect this, even if it means a preventative nuclear strike.
Ironically, the world's largest communist power needs to prove fifty years later that the capitalist system sometimes works best. At that time, however, the American system was losing influence worldwide. It seemed very bleak for freelancers; China, Cuba, Greece, North Korea, Indochina, Malaysia, almost all of Eastern Europe and many others have fallen under communist influence; hence the desperate need to catch up with a number of ICBMs. The Cold War was a very real, nuclear box, ready to ignite.
Fisher, a Soviet spy, was captured, sentenced and sent to the Atlanta prison. Forces taken down over Russia are also closed. & # 39; Spy Bridge & # 39; describes the details and background of their exchange in Berlin shortly after the construction of the Iron Curtain.
I will let author Giles Whittel take it from here, as he can do a much better job of it than I ever could. Whittell writes with the professional skills of a detached journalist, weaving several threads together in time to create an intense and highly relevant story from an all-knowing point of view. In my opinion, the work is extremely well researched, accompanied by the stories of many domestic players, such as the men who operated the rocket launches that brought Powers & # 39; U2 down 1500 miles inside Soviet airspace. Collecting such detailed and accurate information on several continents for fifty years is therefore a feat of Herculean proportions for even the best writer. I point my hat at his superior skills in sinking into the dark depths of the past.
Now that I have aroused your interest in the subject and the skills of the author, I must offer you warnings. Napoleon was not at all right about England; is not populated only by shops. This seems to consist of two types – either extremely gifted craftsmen or protruding scientists. As with many English non-fiction authors, Giles is a member of the former group with a desire for the latter. To say that the author is an academic is the kiss of death to his work as much as the pleasure of reading goes. Giles comes dangerously close a few times, crosses the line for short periods and quickly jumps back to keep the work interesting and moving together.
There is a temptation among scientists when they exhibit excellent knowledge of a topic and complete possession of the facts to be lenient. One of these mistakes is to make references, as in – "I was in Swaziland there, facing thousands of armed and half-insurgent rebels, but that's all in the future. First, let me tell you about my speedy youth and what made me joins the Queen's own rifles as the number one surgeon. "Giles does this with his introductory head, introducing a secondary heroine to the quickly forgotten bridge scene. He refers to her at the end, some two hundred and sixty pages later. , but my memory is unable to fit it and.
Another thing that academics like to do is to clutter their work with numerous factual pages that establish the reader who is responsible. In just a few pages, it becomes quite clear that Giles is English and one of the elite schools, all without reading the book's jacket. Giles has a subconscious habit of establishing his credentials to the reader through didactic diction and pedantry, the intellectual snobbery handed to him when he receives his diploma. Why an author will do this at the risk of sabotaging their own work is beyond me. His credentials as a professional journalist and editor also probably outweighed his proofreaders, preventing them from commenting on another stylistic mistake that most annoys the reader of a fast-moving historical drama. He often makes references or conclusions to someone or something at the end of a small passage that is so inclined that the passage must be read again to be understood. For example, he may first talk about an airplane capable of breaking the seventy thousand foot barrier, and then may discuss the program for creating said airplane, and finally his reference or conclusion will be. I don't know how many times I've had to reread a passage to find which one & # 39; account. One last thing I found problematic was the introduction of a crowd of faceless characters. We are familiar with so many Beerlis, Donovans, Drozdovs, Meehans, Silvermans, Sudoplatovs, Von Broekers, etc. that their meaning becomes a distant memory. Since Giles has created a list of characters in the foreword, he finds it unnecessary to move your memory with a gentle reminder. Forget who she is? Go see it, doofus. Only the title of the cast as & # 39; Dramatis Personae & # 39; it should have been an idea of his lofty academic tendencies, but I digress. Giles, overall I gave you a plus for your job, but if you want to get a higher grade on your next assignment, I will expect less pedantics from you in the future, young man.
All the attention away, & # 39; Spy Bridge & # 39; is more than a good read, relevant to understanding who we are and an important, accurate story of the days when the nuclear holocaust was a very real possibility for people of my generation. I remember the days of air-raid sirens on telephone poles in rural areas and training during school to bend and fall under desks. If I remember anything about my early youth, I had to prepare and face nuclear disappearance as an eight-year-old. Giles Whittell did a great job of bringing this era back to life.