In December 2016, a US official in Havana went to the embassy medical centre to report a debilitating and confounding illness. The symptoms included headaches; nausea; hearing loss; problems with memory and vision – and its onset was characterized by hearing… something. A buzzing, hissing, grinding… sound.
Soon, a second official came down with the same symptoms. Then a third. Then a fourth. By the time the story went public in summer 2017, dozens of US diplomats, as well as some Canadians, had come down with what was becoming known as “Havana Syndrome.”
In this deep dive investigation, journalist Nicky Woolf peels back the layers of one of the most bizarre mysteries of the modern age. The Sound is a story about spycraft, technology, and the brain. It’s a story where, at every turn, you’re never quite sure what’s real and what’s an illusion. It’s a story about how the Cold War, maybe, never really ended.
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The Sound: Mystery of Havana Syndrome explains a mysterious disorder. For years, US diplomats and spies stationed in Cuba have gotten mysteriously ill. They call it “Havana Syndrome.” Is this real? What could be causing it? Is a weird sound involved? This podcast reveals the truth behind the mystery.
The host of the podcast is Nicky Woolf. He is an international journalist who specializes in politics and technology. In 2021, Woolf published Finding Q, a podcast tracking the people behind QAnon. With The Sound: Mystery of Havana Syndrome, Woolf follows an even more engaging topic.
Podcast host Woolf spent a year investigating Havana Syndrome. He traveled to Miami, Washington, London, and Cuba. He went to the scene of the crime to experience the sound himself. The journalist spoke to whistleblowers, CIA agents, FBI, historians, and one mentalist. To check the science and test some of the theories, Woolf even built several ray guns. However, his most important task was to talk to the victims of the illness and their partners. To this day, many of them still find it hard to share their experiences.
The Sound: Mystery of Havana Syndrome explores international relations and scientific evidence. But more than anything, at its core, it's about humanity. Behind the mystery, there are people with lifelong disabilities and shattered lives. Woolf shares their heartbreaking stories with empathy and care.
The podcast does something quite extraordinary. It examines the power of sound through the medium of audio. It puts the listeners in the shoes of those who experienced this enigmatic illness. The shoe goes on a journey to reveal the true reason behind Havana Syndrome. It also does so in the most immersive way possible.
The Sound: Mystery of Havana Syndrome sound design is intoxicating, compelling, and terrifying all at once. Most of it is thanks to the score that the Grammy winner Attacca Quartet composed. The rest of the soundscape, including the replication of the dreadful Havana sound, may make listeners lower the volume at times. Better to be safe than sorry.