Checkmate in Berlin: The Cold War Showdown that Shaped the Modern World

    In 1945 the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin.  For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals – British, American and Soviet – fought an intensely personal battle over the future of Germany, Europe and the entire free world. Checkmate in Berlin tells this exhilarating, high-stakes tale of grit, skullduggery, … Read more

Codename Hero – Soviet double agent Oleg Penkovsky

  In August 1960, a Soviet colonel called Oleg Penkovsky contacted the West to offer to work as a ‘soldier warrior for the free world.  MI6 and the CIA ran Penkovsky jointly, in an operation that ran through the showdown over Berlin and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He provided crucial intelligence, including photographs of rocket … Read more

Confrontation at the Stößensee

In April 1966, a state-of-the-art Soviet aircraft, the Yak-28P crashed into the British Sector of West Berlin. This intelligence gift to the Allied forces resulted in a tense confrontation with the Soviet forces We speak with historian Bernd von Kostka of the Allied Museum in Berlin-Dahlem who has researched this story for his upcoming book Capital … Read more

Yuri Gagarin – the first human in space

9.07 a.m., April 12, 1961. A top-secret rocket site in the USSR. A young Russian sits inside a tiny capsule on top of the Soviet Union’s most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile – originally designed to carry a nuclear warhead – and blasts into the skies. His name is Yuri Gagarin. And he is about to … Read more

An evening with Kim Philby

  Ben Brown is the writer of A Splinter of Ice, a play that portrays the meeting in Moscow in 1987 of one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century, Graham Greene and his old MI6 boss, Kim Philby, one of Britain’s most notorious spies… and a traitor.  Graham Greene never divulged any details of … Read more

The Happy Traitor – The Life of Soviet Spy George Blake

  I talk with acclaimed author and journalist Simon Kuper, has written The Happy Traitor, the story of British spy and Soviet Union double agent George Blake, the last major British traitor of the Cold War. A deeply human read, wonderfully written, on the foibles of a fascinating, flawed, treacherous and sort of likeable character.’ … Read more

China 1949

    The events of 1949 in China reverberated across the world and throughout the rest of the century. That tumultuous year saw the dramatic collapse of Chiang Kai-shek’s ‘pro-Western’ Nationalist government, overthrown by Mao Zedong and his communist armies, and the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. I talk with author Graham Hutchings … Read more

From Foe to Friend – the British Army in Cold War Germany

    Germany has been at the heart of the British Army’s story since 1945. After the Second World War, the Army helped rebuild a devastated and divided nation. It provided protection during the Cold War and later used Germany as a base from which to deploy troops across the world.  Foe to Friend is … Read more

Book giveaway – A Question of Time

James Stejskal was my guest in our Special Forces Berlin episode. He has now written a fiction book based on his experiences. Berlin, 1979. When the CIA’s most valuable spy is compromised, the Agency realizes it does not have the capability to bring him to safety. If he cannot evade the dreaded East German security … Read more