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Publisher's Summary

Originally published in 1964, this is the "enthralling...truly remarkable" (The New York Times Book Review) insider account of the Cold War spy exchange that is now the subject of the major motion picture Bridge of Spies by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks - with a new foreword by Jason Matthews, New York Times best-selling author of Red Sparrow and Palace of Treason.

In the early morning of February 10, 1962, James B. Donovan began his walk toward the center of the Glienicke Bridge, the famous "Bridge of Spies" that then linked West Berlin to East. With him walked Rudolf Ivanovich Abel, master spy and for years the chief of Soviet espionage in the United States. Approaching them from the other side, under equally heavy guard, was Francis Gary Powers, the American U-2 spy plane pilot famously shot down by the Soviets, whose exchange for Abel Donovan had negotiated. These were the strangers on a bridge, men of East and West, representatives of two opposed worlds meeting in a moment of high drama. Abel was the most gifted, the most mysterious, the most effective spy in his time. His trial, which began in a Brooklyn United States District Court and ended in the Supreme Court of the United States, chillingly revealed the methods and successes of Soviet espionage. No one was better equipped to tell the whole absorbing history than James B. Donovan, who was appointed to defend one of his country's enemies and did so with scrupulous skill.

In Strangers on a Bridge, the lead prosecutor in the Nuremburg Trials offers a clear-eyed and fast-paced memoir that is part procedural drama, part dark character study, and plays like a noirish espionage thriller. From the first interview with Abel to the exchange on the bridge in Berlin, here is an important historical narrative that is "as fascinating as it is exciting" (The Houston Chronicle).

©2015 James Donovan. All rights reserved. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Good beginning, terrible middle, great ending

I enjoyed the first few chapters of this book. After that, the writer got extremely boring and I wound reading quickly just to get it over with. The last few chapters were also well written. Overall, this book could have been written much better and would have been much more enjoyable. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. If you want my advice, save your money and go watch the movie. I heard that was actually really good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • L. Lipkis
  • Bethlehem, PA United States
  • 01-30-16

A solid read

Donovan's journalistic account is an interesting counterpoint to the Spielberg film based on the book. It's less sentimental, but often no less gripping, than the movie, particularly the scenes set in East Germany. It's also a fascinating record of a time in American history when the average American could feel comfortable expressing an unironic, idealistic view, as opposed to the cynicism that might dominate a report of such proceedings today. Sometimes I sensed Donovan might be leaving out significant parts of his story, in service to his own sense of patriotism.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slow

Gave up towards the end. Way to many superfluous details which bogged down the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • cifey
  • Houston, Tx United States
  • 08-05-16

Starts a little dry but picks up momentum

Initial impression was that it was overly dry, but The lawyers logic and political negotiating tactics combined with the history won me over.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Thank goodness I saw the movie first

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Probably not. I almost always like a book more than its movie version. Not in this case. This book did explain things in more depth than the movie--which I enjoyed. Had I not seen the movie first, however, I don't think I would have finished the book due to the passages that dragged on too long.

Would you ever listen to anything by James Donovan again?

Perhaps

What aspect of George Newbern’s performance would you have changed?

I thought he did good with the material.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Actual Basis for the Movie "Spies on a Bridge"

We highly recommend this book if you want to learn the details of James Donavan's work in the exchange of Francis Gary Powers (plus TWO other hapless prisoners) for Colonel Abel as told in the movie, Spies on a Bridge.

I have to recommend to the interested reader/listener that you also read/listen to the book "Spies on a Bridge" for the fascinating background on the U2 flights. You really need both books for the (almost) complete story.

Now, I have get "Operation Overflight" to complete (I think) the details.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Book is better than the movie

A few weeks ago, I happened to see the movie, Strangers on a Bridge, starring Tom Hanks. It was a pretty good movie, or at least I thought it was. I discovered that the movie and then based on this book. I decided to listen to this book. I didn’t realize how long the book was, but it turned out to be excellent. The narrator was great. The book was Infinitely better than the movie. I would highly recommend this.

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Cold war history and law woven into a good story

What made the experience of listening to Strangers on a Bridge the most enjoyable?

This book is less a story about espionage and intrigue, though it certainly has much to offer along those lines, than a snapshot in the history of the cold war and the legal system. Several reviews found the detail devoted to the legal wrangling and the trial to be tedious. However, those with an interest in the law and legal proceedings might find this very interesting. It is unsurprising that Mr. Donovan devoted much of the book to the legal wrangling given his role as legal counsel to Colonel Abel and I thought he told the story well. For the spy aficionados, the latter part of the book dealing the negotiations and ultimate transfer should prove interesting. Overall, a good audio book.

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Very interesting book... looking forward to movie

Where does Strangers on a Bridge rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Towards the top of the middle...

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The conflict between the main characters obligation as a citizen and a lawyer

Which character – as performed by George Newbern – was your favorite?

The main character, the lawyer

2 of 4 people found this review helpful