Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War

Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War

by Giles Whittell


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Who were the three men the American and Soviet superpowers exchanged at Berlin's Glienicke Bridge and Checkpoint Charlie in the first and most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West? Bridge of Spies vividly traces their paths to that exchange on February 10, 1962, when their fate helped to define the conflicts and lethal undercurrents of the most dangerous years of the Cold War.

Bridge of Spies is the true story of three extraordinary characters – William Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, a British born KGB agent arrested by the FBI in New York City and jailed as a Soviet superspy for trying to steal America’s most precious nuclear secrets; Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the closed cities of central Russia; and Frederic Pryor, a young American graduate student in Berlin mistakenly identified as a spy, arrested and held without charge by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police. 
By weaving the three strands of this story together for the first time, Giles Whittell masterfully portrays the intense political tensions and nuclear brinkmanship that brought the United States and Soviet Union so close to a hot war in the early 1960s. He reveals the dramatic lives of men drawn into the nadir of the Cold War by duty and curiosity, and the tragicomedy of errors that eventually induced Khrushchev to send missiles to Castro. Two of his subjects — the spy and the pilot — were the original seekers of weapons of mass destruction. The third, an intellectual, fluent in German, unencumbered by dependents, and researching a Ph.D. thesis on the foreign trade system of the Soviet bloc, seemed to the Stasi precisely the sort of person the CIA should have been recruiting. He was not. In over his head in the world capital of spying, he was wrongly charged with espionage and thus came to the Agency’s notice by a more roundabout route. The three men were rescued against daunting odds by fate and by their families, and then all but forgotten. Yet they laid bare the pathological mistrust that fueled the arms race for the next 30 years.
Drawing on new interviews conducted in the United States, Europe and Russia with key players in the exchange and the events leading to it, among them Frederic Pryor himself and the man who shot down Gary Powers, Bridge of Spies captures a time when the fate of the world really did depend on coded messages on microdots and brave young men in pressure suits. The exchange that frigid day at two of the most sensitive points along the Iron Curtain represented the first step back from where the superpowers had stood since the building of the Berlin Wall the previous summer – on the brink of World War III.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767931076
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/09/2010
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 7.64(w) x 11.70(h) x 1.05(d)

About the Author

Giles Whittell is the Washington, DC bureau chief for the Times of London. He has been the Times’ correspondent in Moscow and Los Angeles and has written four previous books including two about the break-up of the Soviet empire.  

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Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
pccoder More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't have known from the cover that there was so much to learn about the U2 spy plane. This book covers the cold war time period and all the aerial spying that was done on Russia by the United States. It also sheds a lot of light on the supposed "Area 51 Aliens" and provides a viable and believeable alternative explanation from those who claim to have been there at the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story about important moment in history. On page 220 in a book about a 1960 spy exchange the author forces in a Bush/Cheney are war criminals line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was such a complicated time in history, appreciate the details shared that provide such a vivid account
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just saw the movie and it was FANTASTIC (and this is coming from a teenage girl). I'm so excited to read the book that inspired the movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On page 212 the author say Alsop is as guilty as Bush and Cheney of ingnoring intel on WMD for sake of headline. Even an idiot knows that not only our ownintel services but all the rest of the worlds friendly intel services said the same thing... WMD existed. If the author can't get this right then what else in the book is wrong? I stopped reading it at this point
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago