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July-October links: New podcasts, more than you wanted to know about the Cold War

Interesting stuff from July-October 2020

It's been a little while...

Since my last roundup, I recorded four podcasts with some fascinating characters, well-worth a listen if you missed them.

From AH-1W SuperCobra pilot to Google Product Manager - With Mike Christman. Working a desk job as an analyst at the CIA, Mike decided he wanted to do more in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. He joined up with the Marines. His journey led him to pilot the Bell AH-1W attack helicopter in Afghanistan, where he and his compatriots "hooked and jabbed'" daily with Taliban fighters. After his time with the military, he received an MBA and landed a job as a product manager on the Google Store team.

B-1B and B-52H: Stories from the nuclear mission - With Lt. Col. Ken Peterson (AF retired). Ken is chock full of stories from the Cold War and encounters with legendary historical figures. In 1979, he was on alert near his B-52 when NORAD reported a massive inbound Soviet missile attack. Klaxons screamed. He jumped into the cockpit. The engines were hot...false alarm. Later in his career, he briefed the Air Force's Scientific Advisory board, outlining the need for the B-1B Lancer, which he ultimately piloted. He also tells me about the time Neil Armstrong dropped by for a quick run in the base simulator.

The vagabond data scientist - With Nic Bertagnolli. For years after college, Nic has been my pal who lives in a van. He's one of the most avid lifestyle-crafters I know and lives exactly as he means to. We had a wide-ranging (and fairly technical) discussion around what he does for work: Programming machines to learn from data. As all conversations about machine intelligence seem to go, we also talk through potential futures and his view of the way humans will relate to their machine creations over coming decades.

Shot down over hostile country - With Lt. Col. Scott Roberts (AF retired). Dad and I talk planes for a good while before getting to the topic at hand, Scott O'Grady. In 1995, O'Grady was flying a routine patrol in his F-16 over a no-fly zone in Bosnia when a Soviet-built surface-to-air missile smacked into his aircraft. Thus began his crazy survival odyssey. We talk about where my Dad was at the time, how the military responded, and the cascading effects of the O'Grady incident to every pilot in the Air Force.

Current books and media

I'm gearing up for an article and a series of podcasts about the end of the Cold War. Stay tuned.

For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War, Melvyn P Leffler

The Cold War, a New History, John Lewis Gaddis

Cold War documentary series, CNN, narrated by Kenneth Branagh.  It's from 1998, but the primary source accounts are astounding: Aides to Truman and people who knew Stalin directly. It's a mammoth series (24 episodes), but goes into so much interesting detail.