Past to Present: A Reporter's Story Of War, Spies, People, And Politics
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William Stevenson may be best known for his friendship with and books about another William Stephenson, otherwise known as Intrepid, whose spy network and secret diplomacy changed the course of history. Originally published in 1976, A Man Called Intrepid sold over 2 million copies and quickly became a New York Timesbestseller. However, readers will be just as fascinated by his life’s story and adventures. Stevenson chronicles the major events of his life, beginning with his daring and dangerous time as a naval pilot during WWII flying a multitude of legendary aircraft—Stringbag, Tiger Moth, Seafire, Hellcats—and learning various maneuvers in the skies enroute to Russia, over England, Canada, Scotland, and the Pacific. After the war, still yearning for adventure, he returns to Canada to write for The Toronto Daily Star, where he again meets William Stephenson (aka Intrepid) on assignment and develops a lifelong friendship. Stevenson travels the globe, visiting Hong Kong, Delhi, Kashmir, Kenya, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Thailand, and many other exotic locals, where he meets iconic figures, such as Ian Fleming, Prime Minister Nehru, Ho Chi Minh, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Tse-tung, Zhou Enlai, Tito, Khrushchev, and the King of Thailand among others. Privy to confidential information, full of international intrigue, Stevenson is a living embodiment of modern history.
Past to Present, with story after amazing story to tell, will leave the reader breathless.
ONE OF MANY VITAL LINKS BETWEEN WARTIME AGENTS and Bletchley’s ULTRA boffins who intercept Nazi messages transmitted on German Enigma machines. Bletchley hides the greatest of secrets. Mum is told to move us to this Buckinghamshire town, far from the London Blitz. I cannot tell my former schoolboy chums why we “ran away,” or that Mama teaches university students to forget classroom French and to learn the local patois of French regions into which they’ll be dropped as agents. Our family is
veterans of Russian convoys for which the only destination ports are Murmansk and Archangel, by way of the Arctic Circle and along the ice packs. Between German bases in Norway and the safety of Kola Inlet lie more than thirteen hundred miles of freezing water. A cargo ship makes a speed of eleven knots at best, within range of several hundred fast German bombers based in Norway from which awesome Nazi warships—Tirpitz, Prinz Eugen, Hipper—can strike, supported by destroyers and cruisers,
so-called “war of confrontation against the neocolonial Malay Federation” launched by Indonesian forces, armed by the Soviet Union, and backed by Red China. I am asked by someone code-named Adelaide to return to this region I know so well and asks my wife Glenys to keep to herself my involvement with secret intelligence. We all go: my wife, Glenys, and our four children. Glenys remains “semiconscious” about a secret agency for which I work as a newsman. In Kuala Lumpur we live in a house on Jalan
up to avoid “the bends.” Soon the deck is full of flopping fish and huge shells with weird horns and razor-sharp gaping “mouths.” We dive back into a world I never imagined as a schoolboy. Sand sharks lie still, dark shadows dreaming, bellies flattened on golden grains of sand. A giant barracuda hangs motionless above a flat-topped chunk of sandstone, lit by beams of sunshine shredded into narrow shafts of greenish light. Stingrays glide past like V-shaped warplanes in close formation. Out of a
brilliant skies. Nature is in balance here: every species except man is tidily organized. I hear from Ian Fleming. He spends winters in his Jamaican home, where World Commerce secretes one of its major projects behind the innocent title of Caribbean Cement. Sir William Stephenson moves from there to Bermuda. Fleming telegraphs me, via INTER: “Western world needs to boost morale as Cold War intensifies. The Soviets push our backs against the wall.” Author in Kenya with son Andrew and his baby