At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.
"Important story, imperfectly executed"
The author was accused of sabotage on the 10th anniversary of the 1956 revolution. He was 17 years old. He tried to escape through the Hungarian-Yugoslav border with one of his classmates. Caught by border patrol, he was jailed and treated very badly. He barely survived the month-long ordeal. Stamped as an enemy of the state, he was taken to a labor camp at age 19. He had to do forced labor instead of regular military service. Against all odds, he was able to break free from the communist bloc at age 23.
In 1949, a newly minted branch of the CIA (the precursor of today’s National Clandestine Service), flush with money and burning with determination to roll back the Iron Curtain, embarked on the first paramilitary operation in the history of the agency. They hatched an elaborate plan, coordinated with the British Secret Intelligence Service, to foment popular rebellion and detach Albania, the weakest of the Soviet satellites in Europe, from Moscow’s orbit. The operation resulted in dismal failure and was shut down by 1954.
Learn about the Iron Curtain with iMinds insightful audio knowledge series. The "iron curtain" is the term used to describe the strict division of Western and Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1991. The conflict was between Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Although they had been allies during World War Two, they soon became bitter rivals after it ended.
Anne Applebaum won the Pulitzer Prize for her book, Gulag, about the history of the Soviet Union labor camp. Now the columnist for The Washington Post and Slate takes a wider look at the brutality of Communist rule with her book title, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945 – 1956.
Charlie Heller is an ace cryptographer for the Company. He's a quiet man with a quiet job in a back office. But when terrorists shoot his fiancee in cold blood and Heller learns that the Agency has decided not to pursue those responsible, his life takes an abrupt turn. He was not a blackmailer but he will force the CIA's hand. He was not an assassin but he will penetrate the Iron Curtain with the intent to kill. Heller is an amateur with a one-in-a-million chance of success.
"Robert Littell is no amateur"