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New Books on the Cuban Missile Crisis

As we come up towards the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, there are several new books coming out commemorating the crisis, adding new information and interpretation, and taking fresh looks at what history remembers as the most dangerous crisis of the nuclear age.

They include:

The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Fourteenth Day cover

by David Coleman. W.W. Norton & Company.

Go inside the Oval Office in the days following the world’s most dangerous crisis. Using JFK’s own secretly recorded tapes and newly declassified documents, this book takes the reader behind the scenes in the White House during the pivotal months that changed the course of the Cold War and redefined Kennedy’s presidency.

Blind Over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis

Blind Over Cuba Cover

by David M. Barrett and Max Holland. Texas A&M University Press.

From the publisher’s website:

In Blind over Cuba, David M. Barrett and Max Holland challenge the popular perception of the Kennedy administration’s handling of the Soviet Union’s surreptitious deployment of missiles in the Western Hemisphere. Rather than epitomizing it as a masterpiece of crisis management by policy makers and the administration, Barrett and Holland make the case that the affair was, in fact, a close call stemming directly from decisions made in a climate of deep distrust between key administration officials and the intelligence community.

The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November

by Sergo Mikoyan. Edited by Svetlana Savranskaya. Stanford University Press.

From the publisher’s website:

Based on secret transcripts of top-level diplomacy undertaken by the number-two Soviet leader, Anastas Mikoyan, to settle the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, this book rewrites conventional history. The “missiles of October” and “13 days” were only half the story: the nuclear crisis actually stretched well into November 1962 as the Soviets secretly planned to leave behind in Cuba over 100 tactical nuclear weapons, then reversed themselves because of obstreperous behavior by Fidel Castro. The highly-charged negotiations with the Cuban leadership, who bitterly felt sold out by Soviet concessions to the United States, were led by Mikoyan.

The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality

by Sheldon Stern. Stanford University Press.

From the publisher’s website:

This book exposes the misconceptions, half-truths, and outright lies that have shaped the still dominant but largely mythical version of what happened in the White House during those harrowing two weeks of secret Cuban missile crisis deliberations. A half-century after the event it is surely time to demonstrate, once and for all, that RFK’s Thirteen Days and the personal memoirs of other ExComm members cannot be taken seriously as historically accurate accounts of the ExComm meetings.

Blue Moon Over Cuba: Aerial Reconnaissance During the Cuban Missile Crisis

by William B. Ecker USN (Ret) and Kenneth V. Jack. Osprey Publishing.

From the publisher’s website:

Most books on the Cuban Missile Crisis tell the story through the perspective of memoirs of those who advised President Kennedy, as he struggled to avoid World War III. This book explains the critical events, along with the experiences of those who execute presidential commands in times of national crisis. Their competence, or lack of it, often can mean the difference between war and peace. The history unfolds as the reader is put into the cockpit of a supersonic RF-8A photo jet, giving a fresh perspective of those suspenseful thirteen days. Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute To Midnight, describes Fightin’ Photo and Blue Moon as ‘a wonderful contribution to the body of Missile Crisis literature. The book will undoubtedly be the most authoritative and complete account of the low-level reconnaissance over Cuba.’

Cold War International History Project Bulletin: Global Cuban Missile Crisis at 50

Also worth noting, although not a book in the traditional sense, is a new edition of the Cold War International History Project Bulletin edited by Jim Hershberg. It includes many new documents relating to the crisis from international archives. The Project is also hosting several events related to the anniversary. You can download the full text in PDF form here.