My new book about the Cold War - specifically the year 1953.
It is nearly eight years after the most destructive conflict in world history and the battle lines are firmly drawn in a new ‘Cold War’ between the capitalist West and the communist East. This is an increasingly tense confrontation that has turned hot in Korea, where American troops and pilots are doing daily battle with Mao’s Chinese army, in turn urged on - largely in the shadows - by Josef Stalin.
The Soviet Union now has the atom bomb, acquired several years ahead of expectations by Western intelligence. The revelation that Western scientists spying for Mother Russia had played a key part in its development has shocked America and the world and led to a climate of fear and paranoia. A previously unknown senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, is leading a campaign to root out communism in American life.
As 1952 draws to a close, Britain, the United States’ key ally, is about to test her own atom bomb. President Truman, meanwhile, is awaiting news of the development of America’s hydrogen bomb, a fearsome advance on the horror of Hiroshima.
An ‘Iron Curtain’ is descending across Europe. An invasion by an emboldened Soviet army backed by swarms of tanks, artillery and jet aircraft is considered not out of the question. 1953 is set to be a year of living dangerously.
On 3 May 1961, after a trial conducted largely in secret, a man named George Blake was sentenced to an unprecedented forty-two years in jail. At the time few details of his crimes were made public. By his own confession, he was a Soviet spy and rumours laters circulated that he had endangered dozens of British agents, but the reasons for his severe punishment were never revealed.
Clough and Revie
The Rivals Who Changed the Face of English Football
Don Revie and Brian Clough were born a brisk walk away from each other in Middlesbrough, in 1927 and 1935 respectively. They were both brought up in that North East town which was ravaged by the Depression, and went on to become highly successful professional footballers – both playing for England. Then, as young managers, they both took clubs languishing in the doldrums (Leeds United and Derby County) and moulded them into championship winners.