Professor John Erickson was a leading expert on Soviet military history. His publication 'The Soviet High Command' of 1962 is the definitive work on the formation of the Soviet Army. In 1967 Erickson became Lecturer in Defence Studies at the University of Edinburgh. The Centre for Defence Studies, which Erickson co-founded, became an important outlet for Western-Soviet dialogue during the Cold War period. The 'Edinburgh Conversations', as they were known, eventually became significant discussions on arms control. Appropriately, Mackay seems to show Erickson in earnest conversation; he engages directly with the viewer, leaning forward from his seat as if explaining some particularly important point.