As they approached the Cold War crescent, the two world superpowers exchanged a pair of spies on a bridge in Berlin separating east from west. The date was February 10, 1962. The weather has recently changed from snow to overcast, a symbol of temporary melting in US-Soviet relations that would allow them to make this gesture before they descend into the madness that was the nuclear armament.
At that time, according to author Giles Whittell, both ideological enemies had only ten ICBM nuclear warheads. By the end of the Cold War thirty years later, they would have tens of thousands. It would seem that Eisenhower's warning of a military / industrial complex was ignored. It is over time that "Bridge of Spies" has covered us that we see a fundamental field laid out for the war, which fortunately never became a reality. They fought in the shadows. Giles expertly peeled off the onion domes to shed light on the fears each side had on the other side.
Enter the podium on the left, William Fisher, a spy of quite a curious line from Russia. From Germany he entered Canada via a personal line in Quebec City under one of many predicted names. The date is November 1948. The Soviets are lagging behind in nuclear technology and have been frantically spying on Americans since the Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project to catch up. Fisher's job is to hire and create a network of spies across the US, as the last group of Russian spies (Klaus Fuchs and the Rosenberg executions) were detected and routed. William Fisher is a great spy. It deals mainly with establishing deep secret secrecy and maintaining this cover at all costs. He has been doing very little real espionage for years. He seems to have kept his envelope quite well as an artist in New York who left after making the photo finishing oodles. The author points out that since no one has ever done more than half an ood when shooting, its cover should have been suspicious at first sight.
This reminds me of two Nazi spies who landed by a submarine in Gaspe in Quebec during World War II. It took about fifteen minutes. They slipped into a small hotel in the middle of nowhere and asked for a room. They paid a long, outdated currency and went upstairs to the room for a much needed rest. The clerk could not imagine where these two “business travelers” had come from. Did they really carry their suitcases from another village, as they said, because they came on foot looking for diesel? She immediately called Mounties. William Fisher was similarly exposed by his neighbors, who were captivated by conflicting stories about their past, but happened to chalk them up according to what people who appear usually do: forcing them to impress others without success. Despite being obviously a liar because of his many contradictory histories, he was well acquainted with hail and deeply shared their interest in art. His only contact in America, which he cultivated in barren soil, was Reino Hayhanen, a vainly tormented supporter of the Wets, should the discussion of the ban be resurrected.
Enter right, Francis Gary Powers, a young expert air force pilot who is approached by the CIA to fly reconnaissance missions through Soviet airspace. At this point, the US has strategic commanders of bombers, large bombers constantly manned and ready to fly over the North Pole and deliver nuclear bombs to hypothetical Russian targets. The Russians will soon combine nuclear bomb technology and leap forward with ballistic missiles capable of crossing continents in minutes. America is in a panic and desperately needs to know how many missiles the Soviets have and where they are. The US has developed a U2 aircraft that can fly at 70,000 feet, far beyond the ability of Russian fighters to catch. They need the country's best pilots to fly long missions over enemy territory and photograph missile installations. For various reasons, it is not practical to ask the CIA to create a network of spies in the Soviet Union. This is the only access path that is accessible to them, and probably the most reliable.
Power, coming from a very modest background in Virginia, is offered a staggering thirty thousand dollars to fly to the CIA. Anyone who knows the US will recognize the lure for many disadvantaged Americans. In today's money, this would correspond to about half a million a year. The work consists mainly of training missions. Any intervention in enemy airspace must be approved by the President, so there are few flights around Russia. The real enemy is the boredom and insidious meanders of the jealous mind for wives who cannot accompany them to distant air bases in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
Another key character in this drama is almost inanimate – U2 itself. Whittell professionally describes the development of the aircraft needed to fly over capturing Russian MIG. Although the reader needs basic knowledge of aviation, the author opens the door to readers of business schools. It tells us why the plane was flying at these altitudes, why the U2 had so little control over thin air, why the engine had to be extremely powerful to keep it up a step away from being in orbit, why the distance between stalls was speed and the excessive acceleration at these altitudes required the aircraft to generally land an autopilot, and therefore the pilot, who had been rescued to 70,000 feet, was not expected to survive. He grabbed the parachute at this height, and the human body, kept under the pressure of an inflated elastic pressure suit, was supposed to explode due to the expanding gases in the bloodstream and body. During the tests, exposed skin bubbled and was not held by the suit when the aircraft reached high altitudes. Imagine an astronaut without his suit on a walk in space. The result would be instant red and brown poopnado . It is conceivable that U2 pilots were unable to visualize such images, but are more likely to suppress them, which allowed their subconscious minds to create an ever-present lack of fear of their existence, perhaps the cause of many ropes, the death of a pedestrian.
The screen on which this drama takes place is also attracted to perfection. Giles tells us distractedly of two powerful and enormous rivals trying to impress each other with filmed demonstrations of open-air thermonuclear explosions that serve as a warning against the power of 100 megatons of clouds and the risk of open combat between two enemy giants. Whittell takes the independent perspective necessary to understand the foolishness of mankind and how close we were to the crazy act of self-immolation. Having input from Sergei Khrushchev, the son of the former Secretary General, is invaluable. Have a distance of 50 years back as well.
In this paper, we look at contemporary political systems: the Soviet Union, led by dogmatic social engineers who willingly sacrifice thousands of people in Gulag to shape human behavior by adopting the concept of self-denial for the greater good of the state. Imagine being a peasant who is in charge of this bombastic personality experiment and the empty intellect of Russian Donald Trump, showing a tendency to remove his shoes at the UN and shake them on the table as the ultimate force of his articulation. The peasant-leader claims that the Soviet Union produces ICBM as sausages and buries the US. Look at the map of the Soviet Union. You can place three complete United States on its territory. To prove or disprove The Soviet Union has a starting point ready to destroy the US at the time it is announced would be a daunting task, so an aggressive Khrushchev must be taken to his word. For this reason, it is needed over flights.
The other side is essentially a class system led by lottery winners in the capitalist struggle for individual domination. Their leader John F. Kennedy was a descendant of one of the more successful, morally ambiguous connoisseurs. John F. Kennedy joked that his father asked him exactly how many votes he needed to win the 1960 election because he was too cheap to pay for a landslide. It does not matter that the American proletariat wants to play a game with a loss of chance of becoming a bourgeoisie. The seductive miracle of wealth, the freedom to choose to jump or not to jump on an exercise bike matters most. It's a right, even disadvantages like Gary Powers will defend themselves from death, even if it means destroying the planet. America is an industrial giant after World War II and the average citizen is much better thanks to the free flow of capital and the credit system. They will defend it, even if it means a preventive nuclear strike.
Ironically, the greatest communist power in the world would be 50 years later to prove that the capitalist system sometimes works best. At that time, however, the US system lost influence all over the world. For free entrepreneurs, it looked very bleak; China, Cuba, Greece, North Korea, Indochina, Malaysia, virtually all of Eastern Europe and many others have come under communist influence; the desperate need to catch up with the ICBM. The Cold War was very real, a nuclear box ready to ignite.
Fisher, a Soviet spy, is captured, convicted and sent to prison in Atlanta. Power shot down over Russia is also imprisoned. & # 39; Bridge of Spies & # 39; describes the details and background of their exchange in Berlin soon after the construction of the Iron Curtain.
I'll let author Giles Whittell take it from here, because he can do it much better than I ever did. Whittell writes with the expertise of an independent journalist and over time combines several threads to create an intense and highly relevant story from an omniscient perspective. In my opinion, the work is extremely well researched and strewn with the history of many bit players, such as the men who served the missile sites that Powers & # 39; U2 under 1500 miles inside Soviet airspace. Collecting such detailed and accurate information on several continents, fifty years, is therefore a Herculean dimension even for the best writer. I lean the hat to its superior abilities as it plunges into the dark depths of the past.
Now that I have aroused your interest in the subject and the skill of the author, I must offer a notice. Napoleon was quite wrong about England; they are not merely traders. It would seem to be on two types – either extremely talented craftsmen or stultification academics. As with many English fiction writers, Giles is also a member of the first group with a desire for the second. If I say that the author is an academic, it is his kiss of death in terms of reading pleasure. Giles is approaching dangerously many times, shortly crosses the line, and jumps back quickly to make work interesting and move on.
Among academics, there is a temptation to reveal superior knowledge of a particular topic and the complete possession of facts that could be condescending. One of these mistakes is to transmit references as in – “I was there in Swaziland, faced by thousands of armed and half-crazed rebellious natives, but all in the future. First I will tell you about my helpless youth and what made me join the Queen's own rifles as their number one surgeon. “Giles is doing this with his opening chapter and will present a smaller character on the bridge scene that is quickly forgotten. He eventually refers to it, almost two hundred and sixty pages later, but my memory can't place it.
Another thing academics like to do is the confusing work with a number of factual aspects, the establishment for the reader in charge. On just a few pages, it is clear that Giles is English and one of the elite schools, all without reading a book. Giles has subconscious habits that readers receive their login information through a didactic dictionary and pedantry, and intellectual snobbery was given to him when he received his diploma. Why the author does this at the risk of sabotaging his own work is beyond me. His credentials as a professional journalist and editor probably also overpowered his correctors, preventing them from commenting on another stylistic mistake that most irritated the reader of a fast-moving historical drama. At the end of a small passage that is so oblique that it refers to or inferences someone or something, the passage must be read again to be understood. For example, he might first talk about an aircraft capable of breaking through the seventy thousand feet of barrier, and then he could discuss the program for creating that aircraft, and eventually its legacy or derivation would be on it. I don't know how many times I had to read the passage again to see which one was & # 39; meant. The last thing I thought was problematic was the introduction to the crowd without the faces of the characters. We present to you so many Beerlis, Donovans, Drozds, Meehans, Silvermans, Sudoplats, Von Broekers et al., That their importance is becoming a distant memory. Since Giles created a list of characters in the preface, he considers it unnecessary to kill memory with a gentle reminder. Forget who it is? Go find it, doofus. Just cast name as Dramatis Personae & # 39; was supposed to be a clue to his subliminal academic tendency, but I'm turning. Giles, overall I gave you a B plus for your job, but if you want to get a higher grade on your next assignment, I expect less pedantics in the future, young man.
All courtesy aside, Spy Bridge & # 39; is more than a good reading, relevant to understanding who we are, and an important, accurate history of the days when the nuclear holocaust was a very real option for people of my generation. I remember the days of air raids on the tops of telephone poles in rural neighborhoods and exercises during elementary school to bend and duck under the tables. If I remember something from my early youth, she had to prepare and face nuclear extinction as an eight-year-old. Giles Whittell is doing a great job to revive this era.