Keith Dunnavant, Spy Pilot: Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 Incident, and a Controversial Cold War Legacy

Keith Dunnavant, Spy Pilot: Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 Incident, and a Controversial Cold War Legacy

One of the most talked-about events of the Cold War was the downing of the American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960. 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 Keith Dunnavant, along with Francis’s son Francis Gary Powers Jr., have written this new account of his life based on personal files that have never been previously available. Delving into old audio tapes, the transcript of his debriefing by the CIA, other recently declassified documents about the U-2 program, and interviews with his contemporaries, Dunnavant and Powers set the record straight. The result is a fascinating piece of Cold War history. Almost sixty years after the event, this will be the definitive account of a famous Cold War incident, one proving that Francis Gary Powers acted honorably through a trying ordeal in service to his country.

Keith Dunnavant is the author of seven books, including Spy Pilot, as well as several of the most acclaimed football books of the last two decades, including definitive biographies of Paul "Bear" Bryant, Bart Starr and Joe Montana. Three Days at Foster, his documentary film about the long-overlooked African-American athletes who shattered the color barrier at the University of Alabama, showed how those civil rights pioneers tapped into a force more powerful than hate. His commentary has been featured on ESPN, CBS, HBO, and Showtime.

Admission for all lectures is $10 for general public, $5 for members, and free to AHC Insiders unless otherwise noted.

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