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A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIAs Secret War Audiobook, by Monte Reel Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Monte Reel Narrator: Paul Michael Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2018 ISBN: 9780525531944
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A thrilling dramatic narrative of the top-secret Cold War-era spy plane operation that transformed the CIA and brought the U.S. 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. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • High above the grey clouds of the Cold War, Monte Reel has discovered a vivid tale of inventors, scientists, spymasters, and the eternal tension between truth and secrecy at the highest levels of American power. Paced like a thriller, A Brotherhood of Spies throws new light on famous moments of nuclear brinkmanship and raises troubling questions about the world we live in right now. Jason Fagone, author of the national bestseller The Woman Who Smashed Codes
  • The most riveting tales of history are those where the fate of millions hangs on the actions of a few. The U-2 crisis of 1960 is one such story, and it has never been told with greater verve or closer attention to critical detail. H.W. Brands, New York Times bestselling author of The General vs. the President

    "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.
  • Captivating . . . A richly detailed, well-researched, and engagingly written book that takes us behind the scenesof one of the twentieth-century's most nail-bitingly tense episodes. Booklist
  • “Reel’s superb behind-the-scenes chronicle…reads like a thriller. The book succeeds in audio because of narrator Paul Michael’s use of varying deliveries—from a staccato newsreel style for the various historical moments to an intense tone with authentic-sounding Russian accents…While the audiobook focuses on Powers, its most memorable character, and Michael’s most defined voice, is Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid, without whose efforts the CIA might not exist. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • 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 bestseller The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal
  • A classic Cold War tale of human bravery, technological bravado, and political skullduggery. Monte Reel tells the story with brio and empathy, marshaling a colorful cast of characters as brilliant—and flawed—as the extraordinary spy plane that changed their lives, for both better and worse. He guides the reader expertly through a once-top-secret labyrinth where noble ends were invoked to justify ignoble means and daring and deceit became inextricably intertwined. Highly recommended! Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
  • A Brotherhood of Spies is an old-fashioned tale of the American ingenuity, resourcefulness and grit that remade intelligence gathering . . . Casts intriguing light on this familiar history. The rock-steady, nuanced leadership of Ike and JFK in these crises, supported by deeply experienced advisers desperately seeking to avert nuclear war, is a sobering contrast to today's White House melodramas. Edward Kosner, Wall Street Journal
  • 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 bestselling author of Lawrence in Arabia
  • [A] gripping work of narrative nonfiction…Drawing on interviews, declassified documents, and secondary sources, Reel…provides a wholly satisfying take on a central chapter of the Cold War—a dramatic story of zeal and adventure.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

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About the Author

Monte Reel, a critically acclaimed author, was a South America correspondent for the Washington Post from 2004 to 2008 and previously wrote for the paper in Washington and Iraq. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, and other magazines. He writes for Bloomberg Businessweek as part of its Projects & Investigations staff.

About the Narrator

Paul Michael, winner of several Earphones Awards, has also won the prestigious Audie Award for best narration. He has acted on stage, radio, television, and in feature films in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. He has had leading roles in series and made-for-television movies and has guest starred in such series as VIP and Alias. He has been nominated for a Canadian Emmy and has recorded over 150 audiobooks, including the international bestseller The Da Vinci Code.