A Brotherhood of Spies

The U-2 and the CIA's Secret War

 

Facing a critical shortage of intelligence about the threat posed by the Soviet Union, the United States convened a team of experts to search for a technological solution.  They came up with the U-2 spy plane – a project that irrevocably changed both the nature and the scale of the CIA. The story follows four men – a brilliant inventor, a fiery engineer, a cerebral bureaucrat, and a soft-spoken pilot – who pushed American spying into new territories, and were forever changed through the adventure.

 

Reviews

“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.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

 

“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 story as well-told as Monte Reel's A Brotherhood of Spies is an irresistible call to binge reading.”
BookPage

 

“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
 

“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
 

“Captivating . . . A richly detailed, well-researched, and engagingly written book that takes us behind the scenes of one of the twentieth-century’s most nail-bitingly tense episodes.”
Booklist

 
Francis Gary Powers, U-2 pilot (Getty Images)

Francis Gary Powers, U-2 pilot (Getty Images)

 
Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid and mastermind of the U-2 project (Getty Images)

Edwin Land, founder of Polaroid and mastermind of the U-2 project (Getty Images)

 
Richard M. Bissell Jr., CIA project leader for the U-2 (Getty Images)

Richard M. Bissell Jr., CIA project leader for the U-2 (Getty Images)

 
Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, the lead aircraft designer for the U-2 (Getty Images)

Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, the lead aircraft designer for the U-2 (Getty Images)