In 1983 at the height of the Cold War, Russia and NATO forces race to develop superior nuclear weapons programs capable of eliminating their enemies at the touch of a glowing red button. England agrees to house America’s Cruise missiles at Greenham Air Force Base, positioning the base strategically but also making it a potential target for Russian retaliation. W.F. Whitson’s recent debut novel, The Librarian: Intrigue at RAF Greenham (Blue Room Books), is rich with historic detail of the era, depicting the desperate efforts of both sides to gather intelligence and prevent disaster at a time when international tension was palpable.

The titular character, undercover Soviet agent Nikolai Sokolov, coordinates a series of incursions on the missile base from a nearby town where he poses as head librarian of special collections. The actions against the base start small but escalate quickly — from simply breaking through the guarded gates to a later attempt at detonating a dirty bomb on site to spread radioactive material and disable the base for good. Sokolov is countered by American officer Wes Forrest, responsible for getting the missile program up and running at Greenham. As Forrest investigates the most recent attacks, he must rely on the support of British agents who seem to have an agenda of their own, all while navigating the bureaucracy of the air force base and global politics. 


In addition to the primary characters from both sides of the conflict, The Librarian features an extensive supporting cast of protestors, smugglers, military officers, regular civilians, and other players from a host of countries. Good guys and bad guys are both given space on these pages, allowing the reader to understand their motivations, feel their emotions and glimpse their passion for their respective causes. Additional characters, who are introduced throughout the course of the book, become entangled in the plot and help the reader to recognize that this historical conflict was much more complicated than just Russia vs. America. 

Two of the most intriguing individuals in this story, Morgan and Mari Pritchard, are English insurgents who find themselves in the service of Sokolov. The initial, valiant efforts of these siblings against the Greenham base are intended to protect their country from harm, but their motives are twisted and manipulated by the Russian agent as they are drawn into the larger conflict. Morgan and Mari demonstrate a level of cleverness, commitment and loyalty to one another that will have readers cheering for them despite their affiliation with the darker forces of the Communist side. 


The story and setting of The Librarian are based heavily on Whitson’s own experience as a member of the United States Air Force, stationed at RAF Greenham Common UK in the 1980s. He is very proud of the role he later played in the treaty that dismantled such bases in 1987. After an accomplished professional career, Whitson finally found the time and passion to begin working on The Librarian in 2011, refining the story over the course of several years. This is Whitson’s first novel, and he is currently working on a second, set during the American Civil War.

In this book, Whitson incorporates a vivid, detailed historical setting with intense action and a fantastic array of layered characters. He demonstrates great skill in carefully developing a scene and then setting it into explosive action. Along with the battles and bullets, thoughtful dialogue brings the characters to life and helps to explain critical pieces of the plot. The intricate details, history, and even military protocols depicted in The Librarian make this a truly special piece of historical fiction. 

The Librarian moves at a quick pace, with plenty of action, but also devotes time to explore the backstory and origins of several of its characters. This book will no doubt find a special place on the shelves of readers who love Cold War espionage and historical fiction, but its character development and depth of the story make The Librarian a book that any reader will enjoy.

You can purchase The Librarian: Intrigue at RAF Greenham here.

As a former Air Force Missileer, W.F. Whitson was in Europe in December 1979 when NATO made the “Duel Track Decision” regarding nuclear weapons, including deployment of the American ground launched cruise missile (GLCM) in Europe. He was the first missile officer at the first GLCM base (RAF Greenham Common UK in 1982) and was privileged to play a small part in the development of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty agreement that dismantled GLCM and Pershing II missiles signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in December 1987.