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One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War Hardcover – Deckle Edge


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400043581
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400043583
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #568,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Washington Post reporter Dobbs (Saboteurs) is a master at telling stories as they unfold and from a variety of perspectives. In this re-examination of the 1963 Bay of Pigs face-off between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., Dobbs combines visits to Cuba, discussions with Russian participants and fingertip command of archival and printed U.S. sources to describe a wild ride that—contrary to the myth of Kennedy's steel-nerved crisis management—was shaped by improvisation, guesswork and blind luck. Dobbs's protagonists act not out of malevolence, incompetence or machismo. Kennedy, Khrushchev and their advisers emerge as men desperately seeking a handle on a situation no one wanted and no one could resolve. In a densely packed, fast-paced, suspenseful narrative, Dobbs presents the crisis from its early stages through the decision to blockade Cuba and Kennedy's ordering of DEFCON 2, the last step before an attack, to the final resolution on October 27 and 28. The work's climax is a detailed reconstruction of the dry-mouthed, sweaty-armpits environment of those final hours before both sides backed down. From first to last, this sustains Dobbs's case that crisis management is a contradiction in terms. (June 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis is probably the single most analyzed episode of the cold war. In the past decade, declassified American and Russian documents have proved that a nuclear exchange was even closer than most scholars had previously realized. Dobbs, a reporter for the Washington Post, has used those sources as well as numerous new ones gleaned from two years of research in the U.S., Cuba, and Russia. Although nothing presented here will change the overall view of the crisis, Dobbs presents new and often startling information that again confirms that the thirteen days in October brought the world to the edge of an unprecedented cataclysm. Dobbs spends little time describing the characters of the key players, but he does convey a sense of men under immense stress as events threaten to outstrip their ability to cope with them. This is a well-written effort to explain and understand our closest brush with nuclear war. --Jay Freeman

More About the Author

I am, almost literally, a child of the Cold War. My diplomat parents whisked me off to Russia at the age of six weeks. As a child, I lived through the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and the construction of the Berlin wall. As a reporter for the Washington Post, I witnessed the birth of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the hope and tragedy of Tiananmen Square, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the war in the former Yugoslavia.

When I first went to Russia in 1950, Stalin was at the height of his power. When I left, in 1993, communism had collapsed and the Red Flag no longer flew over the Kremlin. How and why this happened is the story of the "Cold War trilogy," from its origins in the aftermath of World War II (Six Months in 1945) to its peak, during the Cuban Missile Crisis (One Minute to Midnight), to the grand finale (Down with Big Brother).

Customer Reviews

Dobbs does an excellent job in both his research of the event, as well as the storytelling aspect.
Thomas Duff
The new book, "One Minute to Midnight" by Michael Dobbs is a masterfully written account of the Cuban missile Crisis in October 1962.
Kenneth V. Jack
The personalities of leaders, and the way they listen or ignore their advisers can actually make a huge difference in the outcome.
J. Julio E. Herrera V

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
For those of us old enough to remember the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis -- October, 1962 -- (I was a high school freshman at the time) Michael Dobbs's "One Minute to Midnight" stirs up memories of how it was to live in the knowledge that very possibly the next day, the next hour, the next minute might bring nuclear annihilation.

Based upon a vast quantity of primary sources material -- much of it previously classified -- including interviews with Soviet and Cuban personnel and even previously unstudied aerial photographs of the Soviet missile sites in Cuba -- Dobbs has constructed a rivetting day-by-day (and in places almost minute-by-minute) account of a world on the brink of nuclear war. Along the way, the author dispells some old myths (such as those surrounding the "eyeball-to-eyeball" confrontation of Soviet-controlled ships with the US Navy blockading forces) and reveals some startling new truths (unknown to American Intelligence at the time, the Soviets had deployed nuclear-armed cruise missiles against the American base at Guantanamo Bay).

Dobbs avoids overly mythologizing JFK's performance during the crisis (there was a good deal more uncertainty and policy shifting than was evident in White House accounts after the events), but neither does he seek to be a muck-raker denigrating JFK's leadership. In the end, the author praised both Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev for keeping their eyes on the goal, despite much hot-headed advice from many around them, of avoiding catastrophic war.

What emerges perhaps more than anything is a sense of the chaos and confusion that prevailed and so often threatened to heat the water pot beyond boiling, not because of anyone's conscious intent, but because ignorance of the full circumstances seemed to require it.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth V. Jack on June 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The new book, "One Minute to Midnight" by Michael Dobbs is a masterfully written account of the Cuban missile Crisis in October 1962. The book is written from the perspective of those who lived through the most dangerous Cold War encounter between the two nuclear super powers, Russia and the United States. It probes the power plays of the introduction of nuclear missiles in Cuba by Nikita Khrushchev and President Kennedy's response that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Being a veteran who served with the Navy photo reconnaissance squadron VFP-62 during that period, I had particular interest in reading the new material uncovered by Mr. Dobb's investigative reporting. VFP-62 photo Crusaders flew the low-level photo missions over Cuba, gathering the intelligence needed to help President Kennedy forge a plan of action that avoided nuclear catastrophe. The discovery of nuclear capable cruise missiles, by VFP-62 photos, revealed new information on how they were to be used against Guantanamo Naval Base and invading U.S. forces. The use of tactical nuclear weapons was not considered by the Pentagon in the initial planning of the intended invasion of Cuba.

The book is spell binding with the fast moving anticipation of a Tom Clancy novel, although in this case, events are real. Mr. Dobbs gets into the minds of the decision makers and probes the many ways the crisis could have ended in a total nuclear annihilation for Cuba, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Like most Americans (or maybe not...), I knew that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a dangerous time in the history of our planet. But until I read One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs, I don't think I fully understood how close we came to a full nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. And the common wisdom of Kennedy being the "winner" of this confrontation doesn't capture the reality of how much luck, timing, and conviction played in the event.

Contents:
Americans; Russians; Cubans; "Eyeball to Eyeball"; "Till Hell Freezes Over"; Intel; Nukes; Strike First; Hunt for the Grozny; Shootdown, "Some Sonofabitch"; "Run Like Hell"; Cat and Mouse; "Crate and Return"; Afterword; Acknowledgments and a Note on Sources; Notes; Index

Conventional wisdom paints the Cuban Missile Crisis as a time where Kennedy stood firm over the placement of Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. He went "eye to eye" with Khrushchev, and Khrushchev blinked. But Dobbs has exhaustively researched the event and paints a far different picture. Khrushchev introduced both medium-range and tactical nukes into Cuba in order to show Russian superiority and to protect a fellow communist country from a potential US invasion. This made Castro look invincible to himself and his people, and he welcomed the power they represented. When US intel discovered the missiles, the international tension started to rise as Kennedy declared this unacceptable and demanded the removal of the weapons. They also implemented a naval blockade of Cuba to prevent any more aid from showing up on the island. With each passing day (and often each passing hour), the risk that one side or the other would launch an attack continued to grow.
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