Buzzkill Genius Dr. Philip Nash brings us a fabulous (and very relevant) show on the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. There’s so much more to those events than the standard “eye-ball-to-eye-ball” story would have us believe. Among many other things, we learn why the Cold War was so cold. You’ll understand so much more after listening. Episode 479.
Philip Nash, The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Jupiters, 1957-1963
Shedding important new light on the history of the Cold War, Philip Nash tells the story of what the United States gave up to help end the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. By drawing on documents only recently declassified, he shows that one of President Kennedy’s compromises with the Soviets involved the removal of Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey, an arrangement concealed from both the American public and the rest of the NATO allies. Nash traces the entire history of the Jupiters and explores why the United States offered these nuclear missiles, which were capable of reaching targets in the Soviet Union, to its European allies after the launch of Sputnik. He argues that, despite their growing doubts, both Eisenhower and Kennedy proceeded with the deployment of the missiles because they felt that cancellation would seriously damage America’s credibility with its allies and the Soviet Union. The Jupiters subsequently played a far more significant role in Khrushchev’s 1962 decision to deploy his missiles in Cuba, in U.S. deliberations during the ensuing missile crisis, and in the resolution of events in Cuba than most existing histories have supposed.
Martin J. Sherwin, Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus comes the first effort to set the Cuban Missile Crisis, with its potential for nuclear holocaust, in a wider historical narrative of the Cold War—how such a crisis arose, and why at the very last possible moment it didn’t happen.
In this groundbreaking look at the Cuban Missile Crisis, Martin Sherwin not only gives us a riveting sometimes hour-by-hour explanation of the crisis itself, but also explores the origins, scope, and consequences of the evolving place of nuclear weapons in the post-World War II world. Mining new sources and materials, and going far beyond the scope of earlier works on this critical face-off between the United States and the Soviet Union—triggered when Khrushchev began installing missiles in Cuba at Castro’s behest—Sherwin shows how this volatile event was an integral part of the wider Cold War and was a consequence of nuclear arms.
Gambling with Armageddon looks in particular at the original debate in the Truman Administration about using the Atomic Bomb; the way in which President Eisenhower relied on the threat of massive retaliation to project U.S. power in the early Cold War era; and how President Kennedy, thought unprepared to deal with the Bay of Pigs debacle, came of age during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Here too is a clarifying picture of what was going on in Khrushchev’s Soviet Union.
Martin Sherwin has spent his career in the study of nuclear weapons and how they have shaped our world. Gambling with Armageddon is an outstanding capstone to his work thus far.
Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War
In October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union appeared to be sliding inexorably toward a nuclear conflict over the placement of missiles in Cuba. Veteran Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs has pored over previously untapped American, Soviet, and Cuban sources to produce the most authoritative book yet on the Cuban missile crisis. In his hour-by-hour chronicle of those near-fatal days, Dobbs reveals some startling new incidents that illustrate how close we came to Armageddon.
Here, for the first time, are gripping accounts of Khrushchev’s plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo; the accidental overflight of the Soviet Union by an American spy plane; the movement of Soviet nuclear warheads around Cuba during the tensest days of the crisis; the activities of CIA agents inside Cuba; and the crash landing of an American F-106 jet with a live nuclear weapon on board.
Dobbs takes us inside the White House and the Kremlin as Kennedy and Khrushchev—rational, intelligent men separated by an ocean of ideological suspicion—agonize over the possibility of war. He shows how these two leaders recognized the terrifying realities of the nuclear age while Castro—never swayed by conventional political considerations—demonstrated the messianic ambition of a man selected by history for a unique mission. As the story unfolds, Dobbs brings us onto the decks of American ships patrolling Cuba; inside sweltering Soviet submarines and missile units as they ready their warheads; and onto the streets of Miami, where anti-Castro exiles plot the dictator’s overthrow.
Based on exhaustive new research and told in breathtaking prose, here is a riveting account of history’s most dangerous hours, full of lessons for our time.