Behind the Book – Man on Ice by Humphrey Hawksley

9780727887733_FCMAN ON ICE: Russia vs the USA – in Alaska

As a foreign correspondent for the BBC, Humphrey Hawksley has reported on key trends, events and conflicts from all over the world. He is the author of seven previous fast-paced political thrillers.

A new president. An old enemy. A deadly threat.     

As a remote Alaskan island community is caught in the crosshairs of sabre-rattling big powers, only one man can prevent a new world war from breaking out.  A tense and twisting thriller that’ll have you on the edge of your seat.

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I am fascinated by borders between hostile powers and as soon as Sarah Palin was ridiculed for saying that Alaskans could see Russia from their backyards, I knew I had to check it out. Palin was right. Russia is barely two miles away and on a clear day from the island of Little Diomede, it’s as if you can reach out and touch it. I was struck by the emptiness. There are no flags, no border marking, nothing to say that here is the frontier between the two most powerful enemies of Earth. Then came the questions moving towards the narrative arc of a thriller that would do justice to this remote and dramatic setting.

Who are the Eskimos and what are their traditions? The border has cut through Eskimo families and communities that crossed back and forth between the two for centuries. Now, they are separated by what is known as the Ice Curtain. With ramped up tension between Moscow and Washington, what would the US do if Russia just took the island of Little Diomede? Why is it so unprotected, no police, no Alaskan National Guard, no fence? Nothing but ice and sea. Is there an unwritten agreement between Moscow and Washington to keep this border quiet?

This is the backdrop to Man on Ice and I set the scene in these reports for the BBC and other publications.

The ice curtain that divides US families from Russian cousins

The ice curtain that divides Russia and the US

A beckoning Asia could help to reduce Arctic tensions

The US and Russia Face to Face as Ice Curtain Melts

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