Review by The Mole
May 1st 1960 and Gary Powers is flying a spy plane across Russia to assess the threat that is currently posed by the superpower. But this is one mission too far and the Russians have managed to achieve the technology to reach the plane with anti-aircraft missiles. A sad day? Perhaps and this day took the world to the very brink of nuclear war. How? Why? What could have been done to prevent it?
The problem with much non-fiction is that it is written by people who are simply too passionate about their subject - at the cost of making it readable. What Whittell has achieved here is a gripping commentary that is almost totally unbiased but really does keep the reader's interest. He has dotted irony throughout the book to take a swipe at almost every character involved in the events that led to the 'spy swap'. To get 'read aloud' moments in non-fiction is always a good sign!
I was still a mixed infant at the time of the spy swap so, frankly, did not take a great deal of interest in world affairs and therefore the importance of the Powers incident passed me by, but reading this has been truly fascinating and yet entertaining too. I would now like to see Whittell tackle, in the same manner, the end of the Soviet Union and the taking down of the Berlin Wall as this is another event in world history that sort of 'just happened' without any real understanding of the 'why' of it.
Excellent book, excellently done and on a subject we should all understand and he raises questions about industry and government that are as pertinent today as they were then.
Highly recommended for anyone from 15+ as world affairs are for everyone really.
Publisher - Simon & Schuster
Genre - Non-fiction, Cold War, Spy
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