Above and Beyond

John F. Kennedy and America's Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission


By Casey Sherman

By Michael J Tougias

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From the authors of the bestselling The Finest Hours comes the riveting, deeply human story of President John F. Kennedy and two U-2 pilots, Rudy Anderson and Chuck Maultsby, who risked their lives to save America during the Cuban Missile Crisis

During the ominous two weeks of the Cold War’s terrifying peak, two things saved humanity: the strategic wisdom of John F. Kennedy and the U-2 aerial spy program.

On October 27, 1962, Kennedy, strained from back pain, sleeplessness, and days of impossible tension, was briefed about a missing spy plane. Its pilot, Chuck Maultsby, was on a surveillance mission over the North Pole, but had become disoriented and steered his plane into Soviet airspace. If detected, its presence there could be considered an act of war.

As the president and his advisers wrestled with this information, more bad news came: another U-2 had gone missing, this one belonging to Rudy Anderson. His mission: to photograph missile sites over Cuba. For the president, any wrong move could turn the Cold War nuclear.

Above and Beyond is the intimate, gripping account of the lives of these three war heroes, brought together on a day that changed history.

Selected as a “Top 10 Nonfiction Books to Read” (2018) by the MA Book Awards




OCTOBER 25, 1962

Captain Jerry McIlmoyle sat in the cramped cockpit of his U-2 spy plane on the runway at McCoy Air Force Base in Orlando, Florida. It was 10 a.m., and the sun was baking the tarmac, causing the thirty-two-year-old pilot to sweat inside his skintight pressure suit and fishbowl-size helmet. Beads of perspiration ran from his tightly cropped hairline down his forehead and into his bright blue eyes. Another U-2 pilot performed one last equipment check, including inspection of the hose running from the pressure suit to the oxygen supply that ran through the pilot’s emergency seat pack. This connection was of particular importance because Jerry would be flying at an altitude no other aircraft could reach—an incredible thirteen miles above Earth. Should something go wrong and the cockpit lose pressure, the flight suit would inflate, providing Jerry’s last line of defense against the dangerously thin air of the stratosphere. Without a pressurized cockpit or a functioning pressure suit, Jerry’s blood would literally begin to boil, and death would soon follow.

Once the final flight check was completed and the canopy lid sealed, Jerry taxied toward the runway’s centerline. The wingspan on the superlight aircraft was so long—103 feet—pogo sticks were needed to keep each wing from nearly scraping the ground. Once at the centerline he engaged the brake and checked that the directional gyro read the same as the runway’s compass direction. He then ran the engine up to 80 percent of its maximum RPMs because anything higher would cause the aircraft to start sliding down the runway with its brake locked. Next he checked that all systems were in good operating order and then released the brake, advanced the throttle to 100 percent, and barreled down the runaway, pogo sticks dropping away. When the airspeed indicator passed seventy knots, he began pulling back on the yoke, and the plane became airborne as its speed hit one hundred knots. The rumble of wheels on the runway faded away, and he raised the landing gear. He continued to pull on the yoke and began a forty-five-degree climb.

Airspeed rose to 160 knots. Soon the plane was invisible to the naked eye, its blue coloring the perfect camouflage against the sky. In just thirty minutes the young airman from McCook, Nebraska, had climbed to 72,000 feet, where he could clearly see the curvature of Earth. He had reached his cruising altitude and eased back on the speed, carefully keeping it between 100 and 104 knots. Forty-five minutes later, he had entered the airspace over the island of Cuba.

Now, just east of the capital city of Havana, he maneuvered his plane into position for overflight of his first target. This air force pilot, however, wasn’t dropping bombs—in fact his plane carried no weapons at all. Instead, he was after photos of Soviet military installations that included nuclear missiles capable of reaching and destroying cities throughout the United States.

The cockpit was quiet, and Jerry felt calm, even peaceful, despite having entered enemy airspace and knowing Soviet radar was tracking him. This was his third flight over the Communist country in just the last few days, and he focused totally on flying the aircraft, getting the photos, and returning home safely.

Jerry flicked the switch on the cockpit sensor control panel and activated the cameras. Once certain he had photographed target number one, he altered course to the southeast and in approximately forty minutes arrived and filmed his second target. The mission was going as planned, and the clear skies were holding over the 780-mile-long island covered with hills and lush green jungle.

The third and final objective was near the town of Banes, on the northeastern coast of the island. When Jerry arrived, he had been over Cuba for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. Once over the target he started filming, got the photos he needed, shut the camera off, and started to make his turn for home, thankful for a safe and successful run.

That’s when he saw them. Through his tiny rearview mirror, two contrails stretched from Earth all the way toward his aircraft.

He was under fire.

One surface-to-air missile (SAM) had already exploded above and behind him, sending fiery shrapnel in all directions and streaks of white light against the blue sky, a deadly starburst. The second missile exploded a mere second after Jerry first looked into his rearview mirror, this one causing an explosion perhaps 8,000 feet above the plane. The blast sent a burst of adrenaline coursing through the pilot’s body, even though he could not hear or feel the impact. His muscles clenched, and his entire body felt as if it were shrinking. This was a natural, physiological survival response. But Jerry knew it was fruitless as he had no place to hide.

Was a third missile streaking up beneath him—out of sight?

He craned his neck around as best he could in the cumbersome helmet and flight suit but did not see a third contrail. Then he made an instant decision. He banked the plane and, during the turn, flicked the cameras on—he wanted to get the contrails and starbursts on film. Despite the near miss of the missiles and the adrenaline, Jerry felt calm. Seeing the explosions meant to kill him but not hearing or feeling a thing was a surreal experience—like watching the movie of your life from the front row. But this was all too real.

He had his pictures. Now it was time to get the hell out of there.

He turned the aircraft once again for home and took a deep breath, relieved to be looking north toward a horizon where ocean met sky. Less than two minutes had passed since he noticed the contrails.

On the flight home he replayed those intense moments again and again in his mind, still trying to come to grips with what had just happened.

Just a second or two more over his last target and he probably would have been blown out of the sky. It was the initial turn toward home that had saved his life. The Russians had likely aimed the SAMs at a location ahead of the U-2 in the direction it was then flying, but Jerry had changed course in the nick of time. Just one piece of shrapnel hitting the U-2 in the engine could have blown it to pieces. And even if the shrapnel missed the engine, a hit to just about any other area would have crippled the fragile plane, sending it tumbling thirteen miles down before it smacked into the Cuban earth.

Jerry wondered why the red light intended to warn him that a missile was locked onto his aircraft had not come on. The device that activated it had adequately warned him more than once during the flight, by displaying a yellow light in the cockpit, that the Soviets were painting him with radar. But the light never changed to red to indicate an incoming missile. He tried to put himself in the enemy’s position. Maybe the Soviets had turned off their guidance systems to deprive him of a warning? They could’ve gambled that they could hit him without it. Either way, it was a miracle he was alive.

He reflected appreciatively on his years of arduous training, which had helped him stay calm and given him the presence of mind to get the contrails on film. Jerry had been in the air force since 1951, long enough to know that without the pictures, some might doubt him, and he thought it imperative that the decision-makers, as well as his fellow pilots, understand the increased risk. He knew how important these black-and-white images would be, as his experience marked the first time during this growing Cuban crisis that any American airman had been fired upon.

A sense of peace washed over Jerry as he saw the green landmass of Florida far in the distance. Despite the close call with the SAMs, his relief at cheating death blended with a feeling of serenity, a sensation he almost always experienced when flying the U-2. The silence made him feel like the only man alive, and when cruising and not taking photos, he could be alone with his thoughts and felt closer to God. There was a radio in the cockpit, but that could only be used in code, and only to alert friendly military aircraft of his entry and exit from Cuban airspace. At times Jerry felt more astronaut than pilot, sealed off from the earth below. Many pilots who entered the U-2 program washed out not just because of the myriad dangers and challenges associated with flying in the stratosphere but also because of the isolation they felt, particularly on long missions. These spy planes flew alone, never in squadrons, and secrecy was paramount.

Upon his landing at McCoy, members of the Physiological Support Team helped Jerry out of the cockpit and removed his helmet, welcoming him home. They then escorted him into an air-conditioned van for the drive to the building where he would do his usual postflight intelligence debriefing. He wanted to make sure that he had every detail right. Jerry stepped out of the van into a blast of hot air generated by the burning Florida sun. He began to sweat again. He entered the building and then an office where several men from the American intelligence community awaited him. Shown a chair, he sat down but could not get comfortable. Jerry knew he was about to give his superiors information they did not want to hear. But he also realized that he simply had to come out and say it. He stared at the men in the room, took a deep breath, and spoke.

“I was shot at over Cuba.”

The intelligence men stared hard at Jerry and then looked at each other, as if having a telepathic conversation.

“Are you sure?” one of the men asked, furrowing his brow.

“Yes, sir, I took pictures of the missiles’ contrails,” Jerry replied with confidence. “They stretched from the ground all the way behind and above my aircraft.” He went on to explain in detail how he maneuvered the plane to secure pictures, the location from which the missiles had been fired, and the approximate distance of the starbursts from his plane. The intelligence officers scribbled away on notepads, recording each detail. After an hour of questioning, the officers excused McIlmoyle and thanked him for his time. Jerry returned to his quarters, while the debriefing notes went immediately to the Pentagon.

Back at the barracks where the pilots lived, Jerry felt obliged to give his fellow U-2 drivers, as they were called, fair warning. He repeated the details of how he had eluded two SAMs and got photos.

Some of the pilots took him at his word; others peppered him with questions. One of McIlmoyle’s flying mates did not appear overly concerned by the details of his near-death experience in the skies over Cuba. Major Rudy Anderson asked no questions as the answers might allow fear and hesitation to enter his mind. Any realization that the enemy had fired missiles—thereby turning surveillance missions into combat missions in a defenseless aircraft—might lead Anderson to perform his duties with extra caution instead of based on his instinct and training. Anderson could not let that happen. He was ready to push himself to the limit and separate himself from the pack. Rudy Anderson was determined to fly more missions over Cuba than the other ten members of his squadron during the increasingly volatile showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union.

THE NEXT MORNING, as Jerry walked out of the Psychological Support Center, about to head across the tarmac, he heard a booming voice behind him.

“I’d like to have a word with you.”

Jerry turned. He did not know the man, but he knew what his heavily decorated uniform represented. He was a three-star general and had flown down from Washington, DC, that very morning for one purpose: to deliver a stern message to Jerry, which he did without preamble.

“There was nothing on your film,” said the general. “Therefore you were not shot at.”

Stunned, Jerry began to protest. “But I got those pictures.”

The general was unmoved. “You were not shot at, so we are going to destroy your intelligence report. Is that okay with you?”

For a moment, McIlmoyle forgot he was speaking to a three-star general. His temper rose. He knew what he had seen. He knew what he had experienced.

“No, it’s not okay,” Jerry replied firmly, “because I know I was fired on.”

The general shot the captain a piercing look. He had not flown from the nation’s capital for argument or debate. “Well that’s what we are going to do, because we don’t think you were.”

Jerry shook his head in frustration. “Do whatever you want, but I know what happened.”

The general stood stock-still, then slowly, subtly shook his head no, all the while staring into Jerry’s eyes.

The message was delivered.

McIlmoyle was outraged, but he was no fool. The general was so many ranks above him, further argument would be fruitless and downright dangerous for his military career. Jerry held his tongue and walked away, not sure why this general was so adamant that he had not been shot at. But it hardly mattered: a general had flown all the way to Florida to tell him in person. That was all he needed to know.

NOT UNTIL MANY years later, when Jerry himself was a brigadier general working in Washington, was he able to confirm what he had known all along: the Soviets had in fact launched two SAMs at his U-2. At this time Jerry was in charge of the nuclear codes, serving under newly elected president Ronald Reagan. He had just briefed the president, and some CIA people were also at the meeting. When the discussion adjourned, one of the CIA men said to Jerry, “If there’s anything we can do for you, just ask.”

Jerry asked. He explained about the incident over Cuba many years earlier and inquired if the CIA men could locate the photo analysts who examined the film he had taken on that October day in 1962.

It took a few phone calls, but the CIA found the analyst who had studied the photos Jerry took decades before. The analyst called Jerry and after introducing himself, said, “Sir, you were most definitely fired on with two SAMs.”


Born to Fly

THREE HUNDRED THIRTY-SIX miles. That was the distance separating two young boys who were born to fly. Rudolf Anderson Jr. grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Greenville, South Carolina. Born on September 15, 1927, in nearby Spartanburg, he was raised in a small, well-kept home at 6 Tomassece Avenue. He shared the 1920s three-bedroom bungalow with his parents, older sister, Elizabeth, and their cousin Peggy, who came to live with them when her parents died.

The land that Rudy Anderson, his family, and his fellow townspeople called home had once been off-limits to white people. Members of the Cherokee tribe, whose ancestors migrated to the area from the Great Lakes region in ancient times, had once used it as their hunting ground and forbidden colonists to enter on penalty of death.

The Native Americans lost control over this sacred land thanks to a conniving colonist named Richard Pearis, a man they had grown to trust. The Irish-born Pearis had spent decades trading with the Cherokee Nation and led a band of Indian warriors in the battle to reclaim Fort Duquesne in modern-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on behalf of British forces during the French-Indian War. In 1770, Pearis and a trading partner presented letters from Cherokee tribe leaders declaring their willingness to cede to the colony of Virginia. The letters had been forged. When the plot was finally uncovered, however, Pearis had already begun transferring 10,000 acres over to white settlers.

Loyalties were divided during the Revolutionary War, but the community stood united during the Civil War, when the town became a major supplier of arms, food, and clothing for the Confederacy. The commitment to service and country passed from generation to generation. The town served as a training center for army recruits during World War I and became home to the Greenville Army Base at the beginning of World War II. The US Army’s Third Air Base began medium bomber training there in the early 1940s with its twin-engine B-25 Mitchell aircraft.

Young Rudy Anderson found the sound and fury emanating from these planes as they took off and landed in Greenville intoxicating. Fixated on air travel since he could walk, as a young boy Anderson studied the navigational paths of honeybees and learned that the flying insects used the sun as a reference point for both navigation and communication. He was always eager to share this knowledge with his classmates at Augusta Circle Elementary School. When not in school, he busied himself building wooden model airplanes in his bedroom. A photograph taken during one of those long, hot summers typical of Greenville shows a shirtless young Anderson crouching in the backyard of his home, holding a model airplane nearly the length of his small body. A look of determination and pride blankets his face as he shows off his wooden aircraft.

The boy also found inspiration across the street from his home in a neighbor who piloted prop planes at the nearby airstrip. Long backyard discussions about flying soon led to short plane rides high above Greenville’s sprawling tobacco and cotton fields. For Anderson, no sensation matched it. He and the pilot were masters of the sky, and he was hooked immediately. Anderson learned about all types of aircraft and eventually logged his own hours in the cockpit. He was the all-American boy in every sense.

He joined Boy Scout Troop 19 at Camp Old Indian, where he took long hikes and learned basic and advanced scout craft, eventually earning an Eagle Scout badge. His scoutmaster called Anderson “a good scout who took bravery to the limits.” His father, Rudy Sr., who owned one of the largest nurseries in town and specialized in crossbreeding hybrid roses, fostered the boy’s love of nature.

In his free time, Anderson played softball for the Buncombe Street Methodist Church softball team. He was an athlete, a scholar, and a prized catch for the young ladies of Greenville. The towheaded boy, who had proudly displayed his model airplane in that earlier photograph, grew rapidly into a strapping young man with light brown hair and soft eyes.

“He was so handsome,” Annelle Powell recalled years later. “Or maybe he wasn’t. We just loved him so. We thought he was.”1 Rudy Anderson was graced with a powerful yet polite personality to match his broad shoulders and movie star looks. But his love life took a backseat to his academic career and dream of flying. The quote “Good humor is the calm blue sky of the soul” accompanies a photo of Anderson in his 1944 high school yearbook.

He believed that his destiny lay not on the ground but in the heavens. Upon graduation, Anderson enrolled at Clemson University and continued his training as a respected major in the university’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, the first of its kind at Clemson. Leadership came naturally to the Eagle Scout. He also made friends easily, thanks to his giving nature.

“I went to ROTC summer camp with Rudy in Mississippi in 1948,” fellow cadet Richard Sublette recalled years later. “Rudy was the only one of my friends who had a car during that time.”2

Sublette says Anderson would stand guard in the camp parking lot at night, allowing his buddies, also supposed to be on watch, to sit in his car and run down the battery playing the radio.

That same year, Anderson was nearly killed in an accident—not drilling on the parade ground but while chasing a pigeon in his dormitory. The wayward bird had slipped in through a window on the third floor. Anderson and others had tried to shoo it away, but the creature would not budge. He took a running start at the bird and chased it down the hallway. When the pigeon made it to the window, Rudy could not stop his momentum and followed the bird into the night sky. He landed hard on an iron and concrete gangplank above the front entrance of the dormitory. Anderson suffered a broken pelvis, sprained wrist, and deep gash on his forehead. He was conscious when he arrived at the university hospital, where Dr. Lee Milford, the college physician who treated him, said his surviving the fall was a miracle.3

When it became clear that Anderson would recover fully, some began to poke fun at the bizarre circumstances surrounding the accident. A letter soon arrived at the office of Clemson’s president on a postcard postmarked in Greenville:

Gentlemen: I read in the paper that one of your distinguished senior students fell out of a third story window while chasing a pigeon down the hall. It did not state whether he caught the pigeon or not. This has me worried because I have often wondered whether a Clemson man is capable of catching a pigeon or not. Yours truly, A Cute Pigeon.4

After graduating from college in 1948, Anderson spent nearly three years working in the textile industry as a cost accountant for Dunean Mill, a cotton manufacturer in Greenville. The mill employed hundreds of people, and its owners labored to foster a sense of community among the workers. There were hot dog suppers, Halloween carnivals, fishing club banquets, and annual Fourth of July pig chases.

It was the perfect place to work and raise a family. But Rudy Anderson felt grounded. He wanted more. He was born to fly.

On November 6, 1951, he took the oath of enlistment in the US Air Force: “I, Rudolf Anderson, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic,” he pledged. “That I bear true faith and allegiance to the same; And that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so help me God.”

CHARLES “CHUCK” MAULTSBY, a year older than Rudy Anderson, was also from Greenville—the other one, a few hundred miles away in North Carolina. Like Anderson, Maultsby was born with flying in his blood, though he had a vastly different childhood.

Chuck Maultsby was the fourth of five children born to Isaac Wayne Maultsby and his wife, Cecelia Lash Maultsby. During the first years of his life, his father was rarely at home. Wayne Maultsby, a shoemaker by trade, traveled around the South by motorcycle, looking for work and returning home for just a couple of days each month to spend time with his wife and children.

The family later settled in Greensboro, living in a two-bedroom wood-frame house with no plumbing. They were poor, but Cecelia hid the hardship from her children as best she could. Cecelia’s sister Inez often donated food and clothing, while Maultsby’s grandmother covered the electric bill when the small house went dark. Cecelia paid this generosity forward by welcoming down-on-their-luck travelers into their home for warmth and something to eat. It was the height of the Great Depression, and despite their financial woes, Cecelia’s home was a beacon of light for transients, who had marked the location with chalk so that others could benefit from the woman’s goodwill.

For young Maultsby, the visitors provided welcome entertainment as they shared stories about their travels far and wide. The pivotal moment of Maultsby’s childhood occurred when a mail plane flew dangerously low over the house. The loud noise frightened the boy and his four sisters. Cecelia explained that there was nothing to fear, and Maultsby soon found himself feeling excited each time the craft buzzed past their tiny home.

Cecelia encouraged her son’s interest in planes and read to him stories about Charles Lindbergh and daring pilots from World War I. The boy soon paid his first visit to a local airstrip and took a sightseeing flight aboard a Ford trimotor, a big metal plane with two engines on the wings and one on the nose. The flight lasted just a few minutes, but the memories stayed with Maultsby for a lifetime. He savored the smells of gasoline and hydraulic fluid. His stomach tightened during takeoff, his eyes widening as the aircraft climbed into the blue sky above. The boy felt as if he could reach out and touch the clouds. He peered down at the farmland and houses below. They got smaller and smaller as the trimotor soared. He returned to Earth a short time later, exhilarated.

As Maultsby grew more attached to the airfield in Greensboro, his family was uprooted again. Isaac Maultsby moved Cecelia and the children to Danville, Virginia, to open a shoe-repair shop. Financial prospects for the family appeared bright for the first time that the boy could remember. They had rented a sprawling two-story home in a decent neighborhood, and the children had enrolled in school. But these days of happiness and prosperity were short-lived.

A sudden visit from Maultsby’s grandmother was a welcome surprise until the children overheard a quiet conversation among her, Isaac, and Cecelia.

Cecelia’s mother had been startled to see a massive, grapefruit-sized growth on her daughter’s neck. It had metastasized over time, and yet Isaac had neglected to get his wife proper medical attention. The conversation between Maultsby’s father and grandmother turned heated until they had agreed on a plan of action. The next day, Cecelia was gone, taken to the hospital for an emergency operation. The young boy never saw his mother again.

Cecelia Maultsby died on the operating table. Chuck Maultsby was just eight years old. Upon learning of his mother’s death, he hid in a dark shed, away from his father, and sobbed over his loss. Isaac Maultsby forbade his children to cry, which he considered a sign of weakness.

Maultsby and his four sisters were now alone with their father, who showed little compassion for his children. To teach his son how to swim, Isaac simply threw the boy off a bridge into a river below.

“It seemed like an eternity until my body hit the water,” Maultsby recalled years later in his memoir. “I felt myself sinking deeper into the inky black water finally hitting bottom. I instinctively began thrashing my arms and legs which brought me to the surface.”5

The current swept the boy up onto the riverbank, where he laid facedown, coughing and sputtering river water. His father had not moved from his spot on the bridge. The boy could hear him laughing.

Isaac sent his daughters off to a boarding school for girls, while he and Chuck moved out of their rented home and into the back of his shoe-repair shop. The boy slept on a cot and bathed at the local YMCA. He also endured repeated beatings by his father. Fortunately for Chuck, the responsibilities of parenthood were too much for Isaac, who eventually sent his son to live with Cecelia’s sister Inez and her husband, Louis, in Norfolk, Virginia. Isaac never said good-bye and did not reappear in his son’s life for another eight years.

Aunt Inez filled a deep void in Chuck Maultsby’s life. She nurtured the boy much as his mother had done. He now had structure and freedom from fear that a simple mistake would lead to a thrashing. He began to explore the city of Norfolk on his bicycle, eventually discovering a small airstrip fifteen minutes away from his new home.

The exhilaration he had experienced back in Greensboro returned. Maultsby hung around the airport, studying planes and getting to know the pilots. He watched while engines were overhauled and wings recovered. Occasionally, he offered to wax and polish planes in exchange for a ride in the heavens. Pilots admired his pluck and unquenchable thirst for knowledge.


  • "The authors eloquently convey the difficulties and tensions involved in the [U-2] flights, dramatically magnified during the crisis, when miscalculations could instigate disastrous response by either side....This superbly written, tense, and sometimes sad account views the Cuban Missile Crisis from an unusual and telling perspective."—Booklist, starred
  • "Unfolds like a spy thriller and serves as an unnerving cautionary tale in a time of reckless brinksmanship."—Boston Globe
  • "A novelistic approach that involves dramatically recreated scenes and interweaving story lines... The focus on two lesser-known figures gives the book an added dimension beyond other Cuban Missile Crisis histories....[Above & Beyond] hums when describing the strategic maneuvering in Washington.... The authors will leave readers with a greater appreciation of the work required to combat the 'miscalculations, incorrect interpretations, and breakdowns in command and control that could lead to war'."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Sherman and Tougias present an absorbing account of heroic U-2 pilots Rudolph Anderson and Charles Maultsby and their harrowing missions.... Fascinating."—Library Journal
  • "The authors have assembled a page-turning narrative. An edifying history that, given America's current global diplomatic stance, is also timely and hopefully instructive to those faced with similarly dire circumstances."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "A you-are-there retelling of the Cold War's scariest hours."—Military Times
  • "A fast-paced read with exciting recollections of this tumultuous time guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat....thrilling and nerve-wracking....Even though you know the outcome, it's still enough to get the heart pounding and palms sweating as Kennedy ponders and the U-2 pilots soar into the cross-hairs of history."—Providence Journal
  • "Readers get a front row seat to a dramatic moment in history."—Cape Cod Times
  • "Here is the Cuban Missile Crisis as you've never seen it before: through the eyes of the men who flew over the island at 72,000 feet, photographing the missiles that confronted Kennedy with the real possibility of nuclear war. Sherman and Tougias tell their story with pace, riveting new detail, and tremendous economy of style. To be read at one sitting with a stiff Scotch at your elbow."—Giles Whittell, New York Times bestselling author of Bridge ofSpies
  • "Above and Beyond is a thrilling, inspiring story that would make for relevant reading in any era, but today feels essential. It takes you inside the rooms, inside the cockpits, and sometimes inside the minds of the people confronting the most dangerous moments in human history. A tribute to true patriotism and courage, this bookreminds us that the bravest warriors, the ones who make the biggest differences, are often the ones who never fire a shot."—Jeffrey E. Stern, coauthor of The 15:17 to Paris
  • "The Cuban Missile Crisis: it may be the most terrifying thirteen days in human history. Live it again in Above and Beyond, the riveting new book by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias. Climb aboard the most famous spy plane of them all, the legendary U-2, and photograph missile sites. Take a seat in the White House Situation Room to deliberate with President Kennedy on those photographs. Turn the pages all night and marvel yet again at the intrepid bravery of those pilots, and at the leadership that was calm, thoughtful, and steady, yet resolute in the face of unimaginably high stakes. It's an adventure yarn worthy of a great spy novelist and a cautionary tale for our dangerous times."—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Back Bayand Bound for Gold
  • "Intriguing... reassuring and disquieting. Reminds us of how resilient, inspired and successful American military, industrial and political leadership could be in the direst days of the Cold War."—Wall Street Journal
  • "Just when you think the story can't get any better there is a cover-up."—The Patriot Ledger
  • "An exciting account of the Cuban Missile Crisis with plenty of detail about the spyplanes and the brave men who flew them...The authors of the best-selling The Finest Hours have worked their magic again with this engaging true-life thriller."—Aviation History

On Sale
Apr 17, 2018
Page Count
352 pages

Casey Sherman

About the Author

Casey Sherman is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of seven books: The Finest Hours, Boston Strong, AnimalA Rose for MaryBad BloodBlack Irish, and Black Dragon. Both The Finest Hours and Boston Strong have been made into major motion pictures. He received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Journalistic Excellence as a member of the CBS Boston news team, and has been nominated for an Emmy Award. A featured guest on major television networks and news programs, Sherman has lectured at the National Press Club and the US Coast Guard Command Center in Washington, DC. He lives in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

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Michael J Tougias

About the Author

Michael J. Tougias is the author and coauthor of twenty-three books, including Rescue of the Bounty (Scribner, 2014), A Storm too Soon (Scribner, 2013), Fatal Forecast (Scribner, 2007), and Ten Hours Until Dawn (St Martin’s Press, 2005). Tougias has written for the New York Times and several other prestigious magazines and newspapers.

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