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Publisher's Summary

A thrilling dramatic narrative of the top-secret Cold War-era spy plane operation that transformed the CIA and brought the US and the Soviet Union to the brink of disaster 

On May 1, 1960, an American U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union just weeks before a peace summit between the two nations. The CIA concocted a cover story for President Eisenhower to deliver, assuring him that no one could have survived a fall from that altitude. And even if pilot Francis Gary Powers had survived, he had been supplied with a poison pin with which to commit suicide. 

But against all odds, Powers emerged from the wreckage and was seized by the KGB. He confessed to espionage charges, revealing to the world that Eisenhower had just lied to the American people - and to the Soviet Premier. Infuriated, Nikita Khrushchev slammed the door on a rare opening in Cold War relations.

In A Brotherhood of Spies, award-winning journalist Monte Reel reveals how the U-2 spy program, principally devised by four men working in secret, upended the Cold War and carved a new mission for the CIA. This secret fraternity, made up of Edwin Land, best known as the inventor of instant photography and the head of Polaroid Corporation; Kelly Johnson, a hard-charging taskmaster from Lockheed; Richard Bissell, the secretive and ambitious spymaster; and ace Air Force flyer Powers, set out to replace yesterday's fallible human spies with tomorrow's undetectable eye in the sky. Their clandestine successes and all-too-public failures make this brilliantly reported account a true-life thriller with the highest stakes and tragic repercussions.

©2018 Monte Reel (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant investigation into one of the most important - and least examined - milestones of the Cold War. With a novelist’s eye for the telling detail, Monte Reel gets into the minds of the remarkably small group of men who masterminded the top-secret U-2 spy plane program, and their coldblooded calculation that, in the event of a mishap, no pilot should survive to tell of it. At the book’s core is the deeply poignant story of Francis Gary Powers, the man who against all odds did survive, and how he and his wife, Barbara, became pawns in an international political chess game. A wonderful read.” (Scott Anderson, New York Times best-selling author of Lawrence in Arabia)


 

“The story of an amazing bird, the U-2 spy plane, soaring to the heavens, and the men who built and flew her, a triumph of ingenuity and daring on the frontier of the Cold War. Monte Reel brings power and verve to an unforgettable drama.” (David E. Hoffman, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the New York Times best seller The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal)

"A gripping work of narrative nonfiction.... This exemplary work provides a wholly satisfying take on a central chapter of the Cold War - a dramatic story of zeal and adventure." (Publishers Weekly

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