On October 28, 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba. Popular history has marked that day as the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a seminal moment in American history. As President Kennedy’s secretly recorded White House tapes now reveal, the reality was not so simple. Nuclear missiles were still in Cuba, as were nuclear bombers, short-range missiles, and thousands of Soviet troops. From October 29, Kennedy had to walk a very fine line—push hard enough to get as much nuclear weaponry out of Cuba as possible, yet avoid forcing the volatile Khrushchev into a combative stance. On the domestic front, an election loomed and the press was bristling at White House “news management.” Using new material from the tapes, historian David G. Coleman puts readers in the Oval Office during one of the most highly charged, and in the end most highly regarded, moments in American history.
About David G. Coleman
The director of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program, David G. Coleman is a history professor at the University of Virginia. He lives in Arlington.
Coleman (History/Univ. of Virginia; co-author, Real-World Nuclear Deterrence: The Making of International Strategy, 2006) reminds us that for Kennedy and his advisors, the crisis played out for months afterward, really until February 1963. Drawing heavily from the secret White House tapes, the author reconstructs the debates within the administration on at least three issues of greatest concern. First, notwithstanding Krushchev’s agreement to withdraw “the weapons you call offensive” from Cuba, serious questions remained as to what exactly he meant. Long-range nuclear weapons, of course, but did the Soviet premier intend to include bombers, Russian combat troops and short-range missiles? Moreover, with Cuba vetoing any ground inspections, how would the United States verify that the missiles were gone? Second, satisfying the American public on this score was part of what drove JFK’s determination to channel and control the story, and to counter the inevitable Republican charges of mismanagement of and responsibility for the possible intelligence failure the nuclear showdown exposed. Third, this effort exacerbated an ongoing battle with the press about the administration’s tight hold over information, needless restrictions, critics charged, that enabled the government to “manage the news” for its own political ends. Coleman treats Kennedy well, calling his authorization of warrantless wiretaps on journalists merely “dubious,” skipping lightly over the administration’s willingness to appease public concern by exposing intelligence collection capabilities, and generally approving of the president’s unwillingness to press Krushchev too far on Russian concessions. – Kirkus Reviews
“The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis” by David G. Coleman
The Washington Post Book Review – September 28, 2012 (Excerpt)
The scholarly and journalistic literature on the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 is immense and continues to grow. Though the majority of those now on campuses or in newsrooms are too young to remember it, the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union over Soviet missiles based in Cuba brought the world to the brink of nuclear war and ranks with the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and the assassination of John F. Kennedy as the most traumatic single events (as opposed to prolonged ones such as the war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement) experienced by this country since the end of World War II. The 50th anniversary of the crisis is about to be observed; that it continues to fascinate us, including those who have no memory of it, should come as no surprise.
As David Coleman points out in the preface to “The Fourteenth Day,” the episode “is famously remembered as a thirteen-day crisis,” in large part because “Robert Kennedy chose ‘Thirteen Days’ for [his] memoir of the crisis” and because “much later, there was a Hollywood movie of the same name.” But contrary to received wisdom, the confrontation did not end in resounding triumph for the United States when, on Oct. 28, Premier Nikita Khrushchev caved and agreed to pull his missiles out of Cuba. Instead, as Coleman demonstrates, “Khrushchev’s capitulation had not brought the finality to the crisis that many had hoped for. A year after the crisis, just days before his assassination, Kennedy was still referring publicly to ‘unfinished business’ from the Cuban missile crisis.” [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.