Scarsdale resident Brian T. Brown isn’t new to producing content people want to read or watch. A 15-time Emmy winner, Brown has written and produced for 12 Olympic broadcasts as well as appearing in The New York Times, San Diego Union, and on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, PBS, ESPN, HBO and others.
Already the author of two books — “Ring Force” (2012) and “TV: A Novel” (2001) — Brown recently added a third book to his list of accomplishments.
“Someone Is Out to Get Us: A Not So Brief History of Cold War Paranoia and Madness” is set to go on sale Nov. 5, with a launch event taking place at Bronx River Books on Nov. 6.
In this thoroughly researched and newly relevant piece, Brown explores the impact the Cold War had on the American way of life and how the paranoia it sparked led to major historical consequences. In the book, Brown explores if the paranoia that gripped Americans was justified and what we learned from creating this sense of panic amongst ourselves.
Brown, who has lived in Scarsdale since 1999, said the community played a unique role in the creation of the book.
“I was able to take advantage of books in the homes of residents. I went to the Scarsdale book sale at the beginning of the process,” Brown said, referring to the annual event hosted by the Scarsdale Public Library. “I was starting from scratch and I had to educate myself. I found 30 to 40 books from the book sale I might not have stumbled across otherwise.” Brown also credited the help he received from the reference desk staff at the Scarsdale library and, of course, the wealth of knowledge that exists online.
Brown was first approached with the idea for the book in March 2016 when a book agent with whom he was working told him an editor was looking for a story about Cold War paranoia.
“The timing was quite interesting because the revelations about Russian meddling in our election hadn’t happened yet and it seemed Hillary Clinton was sailing through,” said Brown. “It became even more relevant six months later as Putin and Russian interference with our election became public.”
As the American public continued to become more aware of the ties between Russia, America and other global players over the past three years of Trump’s presidency, Brown saw his book that had seemed dated gain more and more modern-day relevance. Even lines that his wife, also a media professional, had suggested he cut for being too far-fetched were suddenly revealed to be appropriate statements about the modern presidency.
“I learned in the process that many of the things we thought we knew about the Cold War were wrong,” said Brown. “One of the things American children aren’t taught is that Soviet forces and people bore the brunt of WWII. The Soviets had defeated the brunt of Hitler’s army before we even landed on D-Day ... of the 60 or so million killed in WWII, as many as 25 to 30 million were Russians or people in states attached to the Soviet Union, and I don’t think we were taught that,” said Brown.
Born in 1959, and having worked on the foreign correspondents’ desk at The New York Times, Brown has some personal experience with the history recounted in his book. In the early 1980s, he met up with Americans escaping Poland to retrieve photos and typed up stories from a Times correspondent in Warsaw. Later, he was briefly detained by East German police for picking up local hitchhikers. Having lived and worked in a world affected by the Cold War, Brown’s work was informed and driven not only by extensive research, but a personal feel for what the environment of the time entailed.
“Once an arms race starts, it’s hard to stop,” said Brown. “If you buy the book, A, you may find out a lot of what you were taught in school is wrong and, B, there are lessons from the Cold War that are still very much applicable today.”