Giles Whittell





Giles Whittell


Born
The United Kingdom

Average rating: 3.81 · 2,400 ratings · 285 reviews · 6 distinct worksSimilar authors
Bridge of Spies: A True Sto...

3.80 avg rating — 2,213 ratings — published 2010 — 19 editions
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Spitfire Women Of World War II

3.92 avg rating — 156 ratings — published 2007 — 8 editions
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The Story of Three Whales

3.86 avg rating — 21 ratings — published 1989 — 6 editions
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Extreme Continental: Blowin...

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3.67 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 1995 — 3 editions
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Lambada country: by bicycle...

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 1992 — 2 editions
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Central Asia

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating2 editions
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“Yet this was not in fact the strategy that Powers chose. A simpler soul in his position might have seen only a binary decision to make—to talk or not to talk. But the “deluded jerk from Virginia” assumed from the start that if he was to have any chance of saving his life, his honor, and the U-2’s most precious secrets, he would have to use his wits. He”
Giles Whittell, Bridge of Spies

“The phrase “conflict of interest” barely begins to describe Tom Lanphier’s rabidly partisan approach to advising one of the most powerful congressional allies of the American military-industrial complex. Yet he was in good company. Air force intelligence was crammed with highly competitive analysts who believed they were in a zero-sum game not only with the Russians but also with the army and the navy. If they could make the missile-gap theory stick, America would have to respond with a crash ICBM program of its own. The dominance of the Strategic Air Command in the U.S. military hierarchy would be complete—and Convair would profit mightily. It is hardly surprising that the information Lanphier fed to Symington and Symington to every politician and columnist who would listen was authoritative, alarming, and completely, disastrously wrong. Symington’s “on the record” projection of Soviet nuclear strength, given to Senate hearings on the missile gap in late 1959, was that by 1962 they would have three thousand ICBMs. The actual number was four. Symington’s was a wild guess, an extrapolation based on extrapolations by air force generals who believed it was only responsible to take Khrushchev at his word when, for example, he told journalists in Moscow that a single Soviet factory was producing 250 rockets a year, complete with warheads. Symington knew what he was doing. He wanted to be president and believed rightly that missile-gap scaremongering had helped the Democrats pick up nearly fifty seats in Congress in the 1958 midterm elections. But everyone was at it. The 1958 National Intelligence Estimate had forecast one hundred Soviet ICBMs by 1960 and five hundred by 1962. In January 1960 Allen Dulles, who should have known better because he did know better, told Eisenhower that even though the U-2 had shown no evidence of mass missile production, the Russians could still somehow conjure up two hundred of them in eighteen months. On the political left a former congressional aide called Frank Gibney wrote a baseless five-thousand-word cover story for Harper’s magazine accusing the administration of giving the Soviets a six-to-one lead in ICBMs. (Gibney also recommended putting “a system of really massive retaliation” on the moon.) On the right, Vice President Nixon quietly let friends and pundits know that he felt his own boss didn’t quite get the threat. And in the middle, Joe Alsop wrote a devastating series of columns syndicated to hundreds of newspapers in which he calculated that the Soviets would have 150 ICBMs in ten months flat and suggested that by not matching them warhead for warhead the president was playing Russian roulette with the national future. Alsop, who lived well but expensively in a substantial house in Georgetown, was the Larry King of his day—dapper, superbly well connected, and indefatigable in the pursuit of a good story. His series ran in the last week of January 1960. Khrushchev read it in translation and resolved to steal the thunder of the missile-gap lobby, which was threatening to land him with an arms race that would bankrupt Communism. Before the four-power summit, which was now scheduled for Paris in mid-May, he would offer to dismantle his entire ICBM stockpile. No one needed to know how big or small it was; they just needed to know that he was serious about disarmament. He revealed his plan to the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at a secret meeting in the Kremlin on”
Giles Whittell, Bridge of Spies

“the crumpled air intakes in room 20 are a monument to hubris and luck—great mounds of it, good and bad, accumulated over years of brinkmanship and blundering in the age of Dr. Strangelove. These bits of plane are also a question mark. What if? What if they had stayed in one piece and the aircraft—official manufacturer’s designation “Article 360”—had completed its mission and released its pilot as planned to stretch his cramped legs and sink a long martini in the hut by the concrete outside Adana that served as the American officers’ club? The question hardly bears thinking about, but it can be answered. If Article 360 had stayed aloft, so would hopes of détente at the great power summit scheduled for mid-May that year in Paris. Paris”
Giles Whittell, Bridge of Spies

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