The best books on Cold War mysteries

Taylor Downing Author Of 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink
By Taylor Downing

The Books I Picked & Why

The Target Is Destroyed: What Really Happened To Flight 007 And What America Knew About It

By Seymour M. Hersh

The Target Is Destroyed: What Really Happened To Flight 007 And What America Knew About It

Why this book?

A brilliant investigation into one of the great mysteries of the Cold War - why had flight KAL007 drifted 350 miles off course into sensitive Soviet military airspace when it was shot down? Was it a genuine navigational error or could it have been a more sinister spying operation?


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Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

By Adam Higginbotham

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

Why this book?

Revealing how one small incident escalated into an international tragedy and how the secret Soviet state tried to cover it all up. Higginbotham opens up the mystery and gets right inside this most scary story. It could be great fiction except for the fact that it really happened.


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Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

By Eric Schlosser

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

Why this book?

An accident in an Arkansas missile silo and the minute by minute attempt to discover what had happened and to prevent a nuclear explosion. This narrative is brilliantly interwoven with the stories of accidents, mishaps, computer malfunctions and human errors that nearly led to nuclear disaster over four decades of Cold War tension.


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KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev

By Christopher Andrew, Oleg Gordievsky

KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev

Why this book?

A deeply revealing insight into the mysterious world of the Soviet secret service written as a collaboration between a top Cambridge historian and a senior KGB officer who was a double agent working for the British MI6. It tells us not only what the KGB got up to but, equally important, how the senior KGB leaders thought. It opens up the paranoia at the top of the Soviet system.


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A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

By Ben Macintyre

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Why this book?

How did Kim Philby con the British establishment for so long that he was solid and reliable while passing on masses of secrets to the Soviets? This biography tells of loyalty and deception, of trust and treason to get behind one of the most enigmatic figures of the Cold War. MI6 and the CIA all believed utterly in Philby, the biggest traitor in the history of spying.


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