BRIDGE OF SPIES A True Story of the ColdWar

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD -

By Giles Whit­tell Broad­way. 274 pp. $24.99

On Feb. 10, 1962, the Soviet Union and the United States ex­changed three pris­on­ers on a bridge in Ger­many and at Check­point Char­lie in the di­vided city of Ber­lin. They were Wil­liam Fisher, sent by Rus­sia to the United States to re­vive its World War II-era spy net­work, which had largely dis­solved af­ter the war; Gary Pow­ers, a U-2 pi­lot work­ing for the CIA who had been shot down over Sverdlovsk; and Fred­eric Pryor, an Amer­i­can stu­dent in Ber­lin. Their sto­ries are re­counted in “Bridge of Spies,” by English jour­nal­ist Giles Whit­tell.

Fisher skulked around New York City pos­ing as a painter. He never did any spying, and Whit­tell ad­mits as much. Pryor, an eco­nom­ics stu­dent, was never a spy. That leaves only Pow­ers to jus­tify the book’s ex­ag­ger­ated ti­tle.

Yet the sec­tions on the kind of high­alti­tude fly­ing done by Pow­ers are fas­ci­nat­ing. Whit­tell ar­gues that gear de­vel­oped for the U-2 flights helped the United States re­al­ize that the Soviet Union was not as pow­er­ful as it seemed. “The tem­plate was Richard III’s horse­shoe at the Bat­tle of Bos­worth in 1485; with­out a shoe his king­dom was lost,” Whit­tell writes. “With­out a de­cent pres­sure suit . . . the cold war was li­able to heat up.”

— Ti­mothy R. Smith smitht@wash­post.com

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.