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.
©2015 Giles Whittell (P)2015 Random House Audio
"Riveting, meticulously researched and beautifully written, Bridge of Spies unlocks one of the most fascinating espionage mysteries of the Cold War." (Ben Macintyre, author of Operation Mincemeat)
Read by the author and just over eleven hours of listening. William Fisher, Gary Powers, and Frederic Pryor are the focus of Bridge of Spies. Most Americans have at least heard the name Gary Powers. He’s the U2 pilot that was captured by the Soviets and accused of spying. There is even a museum today in Russia with the wreckage of his airplane … repeat: today. Old cold war enmities still exist, huh. Well, the fact is, he really was spying … a truism and embarrassment for the United States at the time. But … our soviet friends were not innocent victims in the spy games, as Nikita Khrushchev wanted the world to buy into his righteous indignation at the time.
The book is not a novel, it is not the thrill ride of a fictional James Bond (Fleming) or Mitch Rapp (Flynn) or Jason Bourne (Ludlum), etc. Bridge of Spies is the more mundane, and equally deadly, truth of spies … American, British, Soviet, and the political leadership behind the espionage … they’re all guilty, spying was (and still is) a truism.
Narration is great. It’s always nice to hear the words of the author as he intended.
Read this book as a prelude to understanding the upcoming movie to be released the fall of 2015 starring Tom Hanks. Who doesn’t like Tom :-).
I'd have no problem whatever recommending this read. It is a wonderful exposition on an historical event of my times.
"An Officer and A Spy", by Robert Harris. Both are stories of men wronged by their agencies, and finally exonerated. Fascinating stuff.
Mr. Whittell seemed to have a grasp of when intensity is necessary. Also, I enjoyed his characterizations. He is a very fine reader.
Finally, the whole story!
I'm seventy years old, and have memories of the U-2 event. I especially remember the denigration of Mr. Powers by the american press at the time. I am completely pleased that this book has fleshed out the entire episode. As a kid, I was captivated by the entire "spy plane" excitement. The book has taken me to a wonderful place of understanding.
Excellent story, one of the better cold war books I've read. Being a student of cold war era history, it takes a very detailed and thorough book with new information to keep me engaged. This book did not disappoint.
A incisive look at one of the great fulcrum moments of the post WWII Century; the Cold War in the balance, it tipped the way it did and brought in the ICBM race and Kennedy's Camelot and the moon shots and decades of proxy wars and the eventual bankrupting of the USSR (and soon historians will add: the move of the mighty America to debtor nation notoriety.) And so much of it hinged on the events surrounding the ill fated May Day flight of Power's Icarian U2. Eisenhower had approved only one more flight. He was gunning for detente as hard as Kruschev was and neither could show their hand, the Paris Peace talks were around the corner. But their hopes for peace and disarmament went down in the same fiery flames as that U2 that fell from 13 miles up. Spielberg's movie of the book is gripping and ultimately very human, as all his movies are, but it touches on only about two and half chapters of this tour de force book that brings you through such a crucial moment mid-century, a defining place in time that marked the ashen end of the corps that was the antique world left in the twentieth century and ushered in all that was Mylar and Velcro and hydrogen bomb in the coming Space Age.
Having watched the movie I thought it would be the same story. Instead the movie almost starts off at the 85% mark. The book covers in details the workings of Russian spydome and the CIA's involvement in the U2 program. I'm so glad I listened to this to gain a better understanding of what actually occurring.
The bungling of the U2 mission and the conspiracy theories surrounding the sabotage of the Paris conference.
The court scene for Gary for the mind games played.
U2 can be a Russian Spy!
I enjoyed the book and definitely enjoyed the additional insights into the history of the period.
At times the narrative dragged a bit, but it was quite interesting overall.
The performance was pretty good, but his russian pronunciation was poor at times. I cringed every time he tried (and failed) to pronounce Tyuratam. It is pronounced Tur (like pure)-a-tom NOT Tie-uri-tam.
I just saw the movie today. It made the story more riveting, but focused on only a portion of the story.
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