Highly Recommend Film & Book
Mary Beth and I went to see this excellent film today that is set against the backdrop of a series of historic Cold War events.
“Bridge of Spies” tells the true story of James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on the near-impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot.
The president [Eisenhower] had given his CIA director [Dulles] a long leash, but he never felt fully confident in his judgement. The relationship between the two men would sharply fracture in May 1960 when a high-flying U-2 spy plane operated by the CIA was shot down over the Soviet Union - sabotaging an upcoming summit meeting with Khrushchev and ruining Eisenhower's final chance for a Cold War breakthrough. Eisenhower was agonizingly aware of the political risks he was taking by authorizing the U-2 spy missions over Soviet territory, calling his on-again, off-again approval for the surveillance flights one of the most "soul-searching questions to come before a president." But Dulles had repeatedly assured Eisenhower that the high-altitude spy planes were safe from Russian antiaircraft missiles.
On May 1, the president found out his CIA director's assurances were hollow, when a Soviet missile slammed into a U-2 plane flying over Russia's Ural Mountains, resulting in the downing of the aircraft and the capture of CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers. The flight on the eve of the Paris Summit seemed so badly timed and planned that at least one close observer, Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, suspected that the CIA had intentionally provoked the incident in order to ruin the peace conference and ensure the continued reign of Dulles dogmatism. Prouty, a liaison officer between the Pentagon and the CIA who was summoned by Dulles whenever CIA spy flights ran into trouble, later wrote that the U-2 shootdown was "a most unusual event" that grew out of a "tremendous underground struggle [between] the peacemakers led by President Eisenhower" and the Dulles "inner elite."