Flying for the CIA’s Air America in South East Asia

In 1964, pilot Captain Hansen found himself unemployed. He began to send out feelers to several companies including one that had placed an ad in the Washington Post called Air America. When he was called in for an interview which primarily consisted of two questions – can you fly good and do you drink a … Read more

A photojournalist in Cold War Eastern Europe

  During the 1970s and 1980s, Arthur Grace travelled extensively behind the Iron Curtain, working primarily for news magazines. One of only a small corps of Western photographers with ongoing access, he was able to delve into the most ordinary corners of people’s daily lives, while also covering significant events. His remarkable book Communism(s) A … Read more

Cold War number stations

  You might remember listening to short wave radio during the Cold War and coming across weird transmissions of metallic voices reciting random groups of numbers through the ether.  These are number stations, shortwave radio stations characterised by broadcasts of formatted numbers, which were being sent to spies operating in foreign countries. Number stations were … Read more

The start of the Cuban revolution & the launch of Apollo 8

The phrase “history is human” was coined by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough. He says “History is about life. It isn’t just about dates and quotations from obscure treaties and the like; it’s about people”, which is exactly what Cold War Conversations is about. I discovered this phrase listening to the History … Read more

The CIA director responsible for creating spy devices

After service in the US Army during the Vietnam War Bob Wallace was recruited into the CIA. In the CIA his initial assignments were as a field case officer. He rose through the ranks at the agency and was Chief of Station in three locations where he directed the full range of CIA activities. In … Read more

Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev – aspiring actor and poetry fan

Now, what do you think of when you hear the name Leonid Brezhnev who ruled the Soviet Union for 18 years from the 1960s to the 1980s? An old guy waving weakly from the Lenin mausoleum? Well, think again! We speak with Susanne Schattenberg, the author of a new biography that systematically dismantles the stereotypical … Read more

The Cold War handshake in the heavens – the Apollo-Soyuz mission

On 17 July 1975 the first manned international space mission, carried out jointly by the United States and the Soviet Union. Millions of people around the world watched on television as a United States Apollo module docked with a Soviet Union Soyuz capsule. The project, and its memorable handshake in the heavens, was a symbol … Read more

Eyewitness to the 1991 Soviet Coup with Brett Elliott

Today’s episode is different. Brett Elliott died earlier this year and I was contacted by his ex-wife Polly who offered me a cassette tape. Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google Podcasts Polly and Brett had met in college and got to know each other in Russian Club at Oklahoma State. In the summer … Read more

Life in the underground Soviet music scene Part 3

Listen on Apple PodcastsListen on SpotifyListen on Google PodcastsListen on Podcast AddictListen on Amazon MusicBecome a Patron! In the final part, we hear of Joanna’s heartbreak when her visa is refused, preventing her from marrying Yuri.  However, using an ingenious method she manages an emotional reunion and eventual marriage as the Soviet Union begins to … Read more