Sunday, November 29, 2015

FAIL-SAFE ! One of the Cold War's Excellent Books, Movie, and TV Show

FAIL-SAFE was originally printed as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post, then as a book in 1962, in 1964 it became a movie starring Henry Fonda, Walter Matthau and a very young Larry Hagman, and uniquely, it became a live broadcast TV show in 2000.

First the Book
Original 1964 Book Cover
Written by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, published in 1962 at the height of tensions between the USSR and USA. Which is acknowledged in the Preface section - "The people in this novel are our contemporaries and they deal with a problem that is already upon us. It is being discussed daily in Washington, Moscow, London, and elsewhere by heads of state, diplomatic and military experts. Men of good will and ill have been agonizing over the problem for years. They have found no solution". The balance of the Preface goes on to explain the reason they wrote the book and make a prediction that, thankfully, never came true - "The accident may not occur in the way we describe but the laws of probability assure us that ultimately it will occur. The logic of politics tells us that when it does, the only way out will be a choice of disasters".

What a great way to start a novel about the nuclear threat. To predict that what they write in the book as fiction, may well become fact in the future. Especially in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis!

The predicted accident did not happen because we, the American Cold Warriors, faced down the Soviets and by our dedication, perseverance, and strength, we convinced them to not continue the Cold War.

The book is slightly different than the movie in that on the written pages within numerous chapters, time allows for a much deeper character development and exploration. One major difference I noticed is that the Matador reference in the movie, is not in the book at all. I liked the conflict depicted within General Black in the movie and looked for it in the book. The book is a quick read and I finished it in a week's worth of reading in bed before sleep. It is written well enough to allow your mind to visualize the scenes, though I did keep seeing the movie version of the depicted scene from memory when the written words replicated the movie scene. I did not watch the movie again before reading the book. The book's end is less climatic than the movie but it must have been very hard for the writers to come up with an ending that describes the nuclear destruction of New York. The movie does the ending really well as you will see when you watch it.

I give the book 5 Stars. The book is available for purchase at Amazon with prices ranging from $2.99 to $60.00 for a first edition. I found my first edition in a church thrift store for $2.00.

The Movie
Original 1964 Movie Poster

Original 1964 Movie Trailer

I love the movie. It really is a toss between this one, Dr. Strangelove, and the Bedford Incident as my favorite Cold War movie. 

Dr. Strangelove came out before FAIL-SAFE and I have read revues that the audience expected FAIL-SAFE to be a black comedy competing with Dr. Strangelove and were disappointed when they realized it was a fictional realistic drama. 

Drama it is. And a strong one given the temperament of the world at that time with the Cuban Missile Crisis still influencing the American psychic. The USSR and the USA were building their respective nuclear arsenals more and more every day during these times. The Cold war was raging and here is a movie depicting a technological accident that could start WWIII. Though it did not do well in the box office it has become a classic and one of TCM's Essentials movie to watch. The movie is based on a fictional novel so it does take license on military procedures, references, and depictions of aircraft, etc. You Air Force veterans that were in SAC at this time would be better suited to comment on if the military portions were realistic or not.

I give the movie 5 Stars. The movie is available for purchase in a DVD and as a download from Amazon Video. I rented it on Amazon for $2.99.

The TV Show
2000 Made For TV Live Acting Version

April 2000 Live TV Version Trailer

This version of FAIL-SAFE is a live broadcast on CBS in 2000 that follows the original movie to the "T". The dialog seems to be the same, the scenes seem to be the same, and I thought I was watching a Hollywood remake with current actors. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. The actors involved are the top stars of that time, their performances are excellent and I wholeheartedly recommend watching it. It is done in black and white and because it is a DVD of the original live broadcast airing you get the sense that you are watching it live. Even down to the flubbed line here and there. No redo in live TV! 

I give it 5 Stars. The DVD is available online for purchase. It is not available on Amazon Video. I got my copy at the dollar store bargain bin.

The TV live broadcast version is what started the whole idea to read the book, watch the original movie, and the TV version to do a blog post on the differences.

Read the book, watch the original movie, or watch the TV live broadcast version. Or do all three as I have! You will enjoy it no matter how you consume the story. 

In my opinion, it is a Proud Cold Warriors' must do item!

Burdick, Eugene & Wheeler, Harvey, FAIL-SAFE, McGraw-Hill, 1962, New York, Print
FAIL-SAFE, Columbia Pictures, released September 15, 1964, Movie
FAIL_SAFE, Warner Brothers, released April 16, 2000, staged and telecast on live TV

Thank you to for the digital images. Original 1962 book jacket design by Larry Lurin.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cyber Monday Reduced Prices and Free Shipping On The New Cold War Veteran T-Shirt Choices

I have had feedback asking for a personal choice of t-shirt to be included with joining The Proud Cold Warrior Society.

Well, here you go. Ask and you shall receive.

I also decided to reduce prices when Spreadshirt, our t-shirt supplier, decided to provide free delivery on orders of two or more shirts.

Double your savings on Black Friday and the Cyber Weekend! The promo ends on December 1st.

Join the Society for the Proud Cold Warrior membership benefits and then order a second Cold War Veteran shirt with your military branch emblem to get free shipping!

I have set up our site to have the following choices of shirt image when you join the Society.

There is the original Proud Cold Warrior logo, Proud Cold Warrior Cold War Veteran version, The SAC "We Were The Wall" t-shirts, and the newest images with each of the military service emblem Cold War Veteran versions nicely placed on the breast pocket location.

The shirts are available as part of the Society sign up or as a separate purchase of the T-shirt alone.

Society membership is reduced to $25.99 from $29.99, and the t-shirt alone is reduced from $25.99 to $21.99 during the promotion.

Click on the image below and it will take you right to the ordering site for access to two pages of choices.

Remember, when joining The Proud Cold Warrior Society, you will receive lifetime membership, a t-shirt, and a suitable for framing 11x17 full color certificate.

Come back and check often as we add new images constantly.

Please email me if you have an idea for a new image. We will take your idea and develop a t-shirt for you.

Join us at The Proud Cold Warrior Society today!

The Proud Cold Warrior

Important note: email me when you join the Society please. Spreadshirt cannot share your contact information because of credit card usage laws and we will have no way to get your certificate to you without you contacting us directly.

Second note: The Spreadshirt legal team rejected our U S Marines version of the Cold War Veteran t-shirt image because of copyright infringement. Who knew the Marines copyrighted their emblem! I have appealed the decision. If I loose the appeal, we will come up with a different one for the Marines. The other 4 branches are represented with t-shirt options.

Original Proud Cold Warrior Logo

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to my readers in the USA.

I wish you all a joy filled day with family and friends.

The Proud Cold Warrior

Norman Rockwell's art on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post Thanksgiving 1945

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Military "Toon" Art

I discovered Steve Barba's art this week. He posted samples of his art on an automotive art Facebook page I belong to and I thought it needed to be shared with you all here.

Steve is a fellow veteran who did his time in the Air Force keeping the "Heavies" (his words) aloft as a mechanic.

I have never seen "Tooned" military aircraft art before. If you know of an artist that does military art of any kind, please refer them to me and I'll share it here as well.

Here you go:

To help show the contrast of just how different Steve's military aircraft art is, here are a few samples of a celebrated traditional military aircraft artist, Roy Grinnell:

Thank you to Steve Barba and the Roy Grinnell Aviation Art Fan Page on Facebook for access to the images you see here today.

To see more please link over to their respective web pages - for Steve's art sales and to see more of Roy Grinnell's art.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Third World War - The Proud Cold Warrior's First Book Review

I came across the book, The Third World War August 1985, in a church thrift store. Being a Cold War veteran who read a lot, I was familiar that the book existed, so I purchased it as background information to help me produce this blog. I was, and still am to a degree, lacking in knowledge of what the military men and women stationed in Europe during the Cold War endured. If you served in Europe during the Cold War and would like to be a guest poster and tell your story or anecdotes, email me at

If you do not know this book and the follow up novel and comic books, please read on.

As I was reading The Third World War August 1985, book reviews to assist me in developing a review for this blog, I learned that the book spawned another novel, Team Yankee, and a comic book series that eventually became a graphic novel.

An idea came to me - read the whole series and then blog on it!

The quest started at Amazon of course. Team Yankee the novel, and Team Yankee the graphic novel were easy to find and purchase. A good start, now for the comic books.

I found one issue, #6 of the comic book series, in a bargain bin at the comic book store at the mall. For the others, I visited every comic book store in the area. No luck. Most never heard of Team Yankee. Ok, back to online! Why am I wasting gas? But, the nerd in me urged me to keep going to comic book stores. I ended up buying other comic books also.

I found the other 5 comic book issues in quick succession, ordered them, and they arrived. Now to reading them all.


Fascinating stuff! As a Navy veteran who's Cold War time was aboard combat vessels that never went to Europe or Asia, I have no personal direct experience with confronting the Soviets face-to-face, so to say. I was an east coast sailor. We always turned right or left after leaving port. The North Atlantic or Caribbean. But, those days are stories for future post.

Except for one, a funny story while in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The Soviet Navy never did come near the ships I served on where I could see individuals up close. I am quite sure the ships were observed through a Soviet sub's periscope and from above with their patrol aircraft. My only up close personal experience with Soviet sailors was from a few hundred yards away on the Delaware river in Pennsylvania. Yes, I did say Pennsylvania. There were Soviets that visited Philadelphia to receive grain shipments during the 1970s. As their cargo ship passed by the USS Farragut in dry-dock, the Soviet sailors would be topside trying to get as many photographs as possible. On our side, we would hold up centerfolds from men's magazines. The Soviets would be using binoculars and long lenses on their cameras to see the naked women on the pages. We would be hooting and hollering and they were hooting and hollering back. I realized then, they were sailors like us, our enemy to be sure, but horny sailors just like us.

OK, I got sidetracked, back to the review.

I really enjoyed reading the whole series. The Third World War August 1985 was a very interesting, educational exercise, it is fiction, but fiction based on existing doctrine and war plans of the time. The Team Yankee novel was exciting, and the comic book series based on the novel is done very well. The graphic novel is a repeat of the comic book series in a single volume, if you don't want to hunt down the individual comic books like I did, buy the graphic novel. It is still available online.

The Third World War August 1985 reads like a major blockbuster movie script; plenty of action, plenty of background information, all from the 50 thousand foot level of a commander looking at the entire theater of war. Sort of a Longest Day for the Cold War.

The Team Yankee novel takes that environment established in The Third World War August 1985 and brings it down to ground level. The ground level of a tank platoon commander and his team fighting the Soviets during the short but bloody war between East and West. Now we are in Tom Clancy territory writing wise, with strong character development and a down to earth story line that is not closely presented in the first book, but related in that you are now seeing the same war from the individual troopers eyes. To some readers it may be formulaic with the characters in that there is an experienced company commander, eager lieutenant, rookie tanker that makes mistakes, the Viet Nam vet Sargent that advises the commander, and bumbling officers that cost lives. Well, it may be formulaic but it is reality. We had all those in the military. Especially in the 70s and 80s. That part is real.  It is a very good read.

Is the series accurate in its description of what it was like to be a soldier in Germany in the 80s? I don't know for sure, I'll rely on my readers to let me know. I was floating around the world on a Destroyer in those years and would not know what it was like on the ground in Germany.

The comic book/graphic novel series holds true to the story line in the Team Yankee novel providing visual interpretations of the written words on the pages. The graphics are done in the 1980s format and was published in full color and detail. Fans of reading war comic books will not be disappointed. As I stated earlier above, if you do not collect comic books, I recommend that you order the graphic novel for it has every page of the individual issues included.

I obtained my comic book copies from They are excellent for collectors with a huge inventory and the ability to request copies that are not in stock. They will inform you when they receive it and you can purchase it online. Easy.

The Team Yankee novel and graphic novel came from

Click on the highlighted links to access the websites.

Of course, the novels may be in your local library but I do not think the comic books will be.

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and artist for allowing me to post the images on their books on this page. I enjoyed your work.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lone Soviet Space Shuttle Launch

As a young boy watching the American space program compete with the USSR on who will make it to the moon first, I became a lifelong fan of NASA. I, like so many others my age, wanted to be an astronaut but it never came to be. As an adult I obtained the opportunity to re-live that feeling when I picked up NASA as a customer and actually got to touch a wing of the shuttle in the assembly building back in the early 1990s. It was a thrill! I was in my 40s in age but was as excited as that young NASA fan so many years before.

In the early days of the Cold War the USSR was winning the Space Race with many "First"; Sputnick, a dog launched into space, and then man, and woman, orbits. The USA caught up, passed, and then surpassed anything the USSR could do and reached the Moon first. The USSR never did reach the Moon with humans but they did catch up to us with the Space Shuttle program.

I wondered about how much their shuttle looked like ours and was thinking they stole the design but in reality the American Space Shuttle program was an "Open" development effort with the information and engineering provided to anyone who wished to build a shuttle. That fact probably saved billions of Rubles and countless years of work.

Here is the story of the only flight of the Soviet Space Shuttle on November 15, 1988.

Buran Soviet Space Shuttle 

Here is an excerpt from the article on

In the early morning hours of November 15, 1988, the desert land beneath Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome began to rumble. Moments later, a huge column of red flame ignited the darkness as the gleaming black-and-white Buran reusable spacecraft, the Soviet version of the American space shuttle, thundered into the heavens.

The launch of Buran (Russian for "snowstorm") from the same patch of central Asia from which Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin rocketed into space marked a new milestone in the Soviet space program. The first test flight of the Soviet space shuttle came in . . .

To read the rest of the story please link over to the full article at this link.

Here is a video of the launch:

Thank you to the website for the link and photograph usage. Thank you to and the Russian poster that provided the video (I cannot replicate the name in English).

Friday, November 6, 2015

A Future Adversary Was Born On This Date In 1917 - The Bolsheviks Revolt In Russia

In my readings over the years, some scholars and historians write that this event and President Wilson's reaction to it, is the real start of the Cold War. I contend that the underpinnings of the Cold War were certainly formed in these early years by President Wilson's and Prime Minister Churchill's reaction of sending troops into Russia but the Cold War certainly did not start in 1917.

I am part of the faction that follows the thought that distrust between east and west allies during World War 2 and the subsequent bad faith negotiations after the war started the Cold War. Stalin never forgot the long wait for the second front in France when negotiating with the allies as they divided up Europe. He started the distrust of the west and insecurity doctrine concerning their borders that stayed with the Soviets the entire time the USSR existed. Lenin was more of a take the world over Marxist and Stalin was a paranoid individual that felt the USSR needed space between the west and their borders. The export of Marxism was not as important to Stalin as it was to Lenin. Subsequent Soviet leaders until Gorbachev kept that security doctrine alive.

Also, this may have been the start of the Russian Revolution but it was not the start of the USSR, that entity was formed in 1922, five years later. The Bolsheviks fought a bloody civil war (1920-1922) to ultimately solidify their power over the people. The Red and White armies clashed during these years with the west assisting the White army. The USA and Britain invaded parts of Russia, supposedly to secure the arms that were given to the Russians to fight World War 1, but Lenin believed that they were there to assist the White army. For more information on that campaign Google the Polar Bear Expedition or Northern Russia Expedition.

The article leaves out if just how nasty a killer Lenin was. I read a biography of Lenin and I was amazed at just how evil this guy acted. He killed tens of thousands at the drop of a hat if he thought they opposed what he was trying to attain with his revolution. One footnote I read in the biography explained how he ordered the bombardment of a military base because they had the audacity to protest parts of his program for taking over the country. The book stated he killed an estimated 40,000 sailors during that engagement because they dared to oppose him!

His lack of sanctity for human life is only surpassed by his successive Communist leader Stalin in the USSR and Mao in China. To this day, I do not know which of those two were worse when it came to killing their own citizens. I lean towards Stalin because he killed them outright with executive orders and death warrants. Mao killed millions with his poorly managed 5-year programs of reorganizing the country. Famine caused starvation which caused the death of millions of citizens. Mao killed his people through execution also but not in the magnitude history shows Stalin to have done.

98 years ago this week, the world took one of those historical turns it has done throughout recorded history. With the news reports coming out of that part of the world recently, are we heading back to that entity, or some form of it, again with Putin's actions? That will be interesting to watch and report on.

Hmmmmm, is a Cold War 2 blog in my future?

To read the whole article, jump over to it with this LINK.

Here is a quick 4 minute video explaining the timeline of the Russian Revolution that put Lenin in power:

Thank you to for allowing me to link to their article. Thank you to and the poster OSUEcampus for allowing me to use the video.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Cold War Veteran T-Shirt Available Now!

Here is the latest in t-shirts from The Proud Cold Warrior.

Follow this link to our sales page and order yours today!

Thanks for supporting The Proud Cold Warrior blog with your purchase.

John Kairis
The Proud Cold Warrior

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Followup to the Bridge of Spies" Movie - Swarthmore professor snared in "Bridge of Spies"

The twist in the "Bridge of Spies" movie for me was the inclusion of a American grad student in the negotiations. His release was facilitated at the infamous Checkpoint Charlie. I always hope to learn new things about the Cold War every time I open a web link from my Google Alert feed. None of the articles and reviews I read on the movie mentioned Professor Pryor at all. I purposely did not research the historical side of the story so I wouldn't spoil the movie when I watched it for the first time. I didn't want to know the real story until after I saw the movie for entertainment value.

The article I link to today for you is the true side of his part of the event, as told by him, to the reporter. As usual, the real version and the Hollywood version differ some. I think they call it artistic license?

Follow this link to read the complete article: Swarthmore prof was snared in "Bridge of Spies" case

Professor Pryor 2015
Thank you to the website for allowing me to link to the article and to Laurence Kesterson for the re-posting of the photograph.

If you would like additional information about Checkpoint Charlie, here are two videos. One is a 28 minute general version about the site and the other is about a specific incident where American and Soviet tanks stood muzzle to muzzle once. Both are from the early 1960s. Good stuff.

Checkpoint Charlie - 28 minutes - U S Army Documentary

4 minute segment of a CNN show on a Checkpoint Charlie standoff in 1961

Thank you to and posters Bright Enlightenment and Jaglavak Soldier for allowing me to link to their post. 


Where did you serve? Military or Civilian? Stateside or Overseas. Fulda Gap? Berlin? NATO? CIA? State Department? The Dew Line? On a Missile Battery? Down in a Silo? At Sea? Under the Sea? In the Air? According to the VA over 26 million Vets are still alive. I'd bet that most served in the 1945-1991 time frame and I'd like to share your story on this blog. As long as it isn't still classified, email me with your story and I will post it here.