A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA's Secret War

A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA's Secret War

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.

Title:A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA's Secret War
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780385540209
Format Type:

About Monte Reel

MONTE REEL is the author of two previous books, Between Man and Beast and The Last of the Tribe. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and other magazines. He currently writes for Bloomberg Businessweek as part of its Projects & Investigations staff, and previously was a foreign correspondent for The Washington Post. He lives in Illinois.


    A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA's Secret War Reviews

  • J.S.

    This is a fascinating and very readable account of the events surrounding the U-2 spy plane. Focusing mainly on four important characters, Monte Reel shows how the U.S. entered the world of spy-craft ...

  • Paul

    A Brotherhood of Spies tells the captivating story of the “marrying of espionage with high-tech innovation.” This is an essential read when trying to understand the original mission of the CIA, an...

  • Eric

    TL;DR A Brotherhood of Spies is an information packed, readable history of the early days of the Cold War. 9.5/10 Highly Recommended!Cross posted at my personal blog Primmlife.com. A Brotherhood of ...

  • Erik Graff

    This is a recent, page-turning account of the Francis Gary Powers U-2 affair of the early sixties set within the context of a history of the cold war until the seventies. It also includes a review of ...

  • Donna Davis

    3.5 stars rounded up. Thanks go to Net Galley and Doubleday for the DRC, which I received free and early in exchange for this honest review.The story begins with a US spy plane being shot down over So...

  • Phrodrick

    Full disclosure first. Mine is an advanced copy of the paperback A Brotherhood of Spies: The U-2 and the CIA's Secret War. It was a prize given to me through a GoodReads give-away. Under the rules and...

  • Dan

    I was initially puzzled by the polarized early ratings on this book: five "5s" and five "1s". After looking at some web sites devoted to history of aerial reconnaissance, I found that the U-2 story is...

  • LuAnne Feik

    Readers can approach A BROTHERHOOD OF SPIES from one of two perspectives. Monte Reel's book covers development of the first U-2 plane capable of providing detailed photographs while flying, without be...

  • Donald

    Fantastic, engaging read. Knowing nothing other than the name Powers and that it was a public mis-step in the Cold War this book really brought to life this episode in our country's history. Highly re...

  • Jim Black

    First I won this book in a Goodreads’s contest. I entered the contest for this book because of my 36 years of military service 6 were spent in active use of the U-2 real time electronic intelligence...