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  • 1983

  • The World at the Brink
  • By: Taylor Downing
  • Narrated by: Ben Onwukwe
  • Length: 12 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (151 ratings)

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Summary

1983 was a supremely dangerous year - even more dangerous than 1962, the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the US, President Reagan massively increased defence spending, described the Soviet Union as an 'evil empire' and announced his 'Star Wars' programme, calling for a shield in space to defend the US from incoming missiles.

Yuri Andropov, the paranoid Soviet leader, saw all this as signs of American aggression and convinced himself that the US really meant to attack the Soviet Union. He put the KGB on alert to look for signs of an imminent nuclear attack. When a Soviet fighter jet shot down Korean Air Lines flight KAL 007 after straying off course over a sensitive Soviet military area, President Reagan described it as a 'terrorist act' and 'a crime against humanity'. The temperature was rising fast.

Then at the height of the tension, NATO began a war game called Able Archer 83. In this exercise, NATO requested permission to use the codes to launch nuclear weapons. The nervous Soviets convinced themselves this was no exercise but the real thing.

This is an extraordinary and largely unknown Cold War story of spies and double agents, of missiles being readied, of intelligence failures, misunderstandings and the panic of world leaders. With access to hundreds of extraordinary new documents just released in the US, Taylor Downing is able to tell for the first time the gripping but true story of how near the world came to the brink of nuclear war in 1983.

1983: The World at the Brink is a real-life thriller.

©2018 Taylor Downing (P)2018 Little, Brown Book Group

What listeners say about 1983

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enthralling but let down by narration

An excellent insight into how close we came to war, with some fascinating detail. Narration is poor, though. American accents are all over the place, and the rest is delivered in a rasping croak which sounds like it's being read by a carrion crow.

5 people found this helpful

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American accents!?

Ok the content was good and the narration very good until the parts where there are quotes for Americans, for some mad reason the narrator puts on a terrible and inconsistent American accent that manages to slowly change back into an English accent by the end of the quote. Inextricably some of the quotes for Russians are also done in a strange America type accent. I got to chapter three and couldn't take it anymore the accents where so off putting I had to give up on the book.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent!

This is a very good listening. A well written, very well narrated audiobook, covering some of the most momentous times of the cold war era, ending up with the arms reductions treaty now being scuttled by the incompetent Trump administration.

Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Awful American Accents

This recording is basically unlistenable. The awful accents he tries to mimic, which seem to go in between different regions and strengths even in the same sentence, totally ruin it. And his voice in general is so gravelly and low it’s hard to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Awful awful narrator

The most irritating and uncomfortable audio. So off putting I can’t listen to another moment having paid for it. Sounds like a very hungover guy with a cold croaking away. Like nails on a blackboard after a while. Avoid, I wished I had listened to a sample first, I’ll never make that mistake again !!

1 person found this helpful

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Good book - terrible narration

Interestingly, the British narrator uses the same "american" accent for every single american person in the book (from Regan to Schultz)... Makes it hard to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating story, undercut by odd narration

A clear, incisive and interesting account undermined by inconsistent accents and inexplicable pauses. The narrator has a fine voice, but I found his reading frankly jarring.

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informative but awfull American accent

enjoyed it as a former cold war soldier but spoilt by the narrator's need to use awfull American accent at any opportunity

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Interesting

It has a focus on 1983 but covers much of the Cold War that is relevant.
Especially if (like me) you enjoyed Deutschland 83 this provides a useful historical perspective.

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Another brilliant book from Taylor Downing

I love the detail in which Taylor goes into to give you the full picture.

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Profile Image for Brad Crisler
  • Brad Crisler
  • 27-04-18

Dead Hand is better...

And more detailed. This narrator should stick to his native English accent. He truly has the most annoying, embarrassing and insulting American accent. Ever. Please. Stop.

3 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Douglas
  • Douglas
  • 12-06-18

Complaints About Narrator's Accents are dead-on

The story is interesting enough, but Narrator's U.S. accents are grating. Each time an American speaks, he sounds like a weird cartoon character. I made it to chapter 8 before giving up.

1 person found this helpful