One of the most talked-about events of the Cold War was the downing of the CIA U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. The event was depicted in the Steven Spielberg movie “Bridge of Spies.” Powers was captured by the KGB, subjected to a televised show trial, and imprisoned, all of which created an international incident. Soviet authorities eventually released him in exchange for captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. On his return to the United States, Powers was exonerated of any wrongdoing while imprisoned in Russia, yet a cloud of controversy lingered until his untimely death in 1977.
Now his son, Francis Gary Powers Jr., has written an account of his father’s life based on personal files that have never been previously available. Delving into old audiotapes, the transcript of his father’s debriefing by the CIA, other recently declassified documents about the U-2 program, and interviews with his contemporaries, Powers sets the record straight. The result is a fascinating piece of Cold War history.
Francis Gary Powers Jr. is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Cold War Museum in Vint Hill, VA, near Washington, D.C. As chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Cold War Theme Study, he works with the National Park Service and leading Cold War experts to identify historic Cold War sites for commemorating, interpreting, and preserving. He served as a consultant to Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller, Bridge of Spies, and he lectures internationally and appears regularly on the History, Discovery, and A&E channels.