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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis Paperback – September 1, 1998
History To Repeat & Some To Not
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Top Customer Reviews
What JFK Really Said
A review by Sheldon M. Stern
[Ed. note: This review originally ran in the May 2000 issue of the Atlantic Monthly].
My twenty-three years as the historian at the John F. Kennedy Library, in Boston, were punctuated by intensive work on sound recordings. I conducted scores of taped oral-history interviews and verified the accuracy of the transcripts, edited President John F. Kennedy's recorded telephone conversations, and, in 1981-1982, evaluated tapes made during the Cuban missile crisis, in October of 1962, as the library prepared for their declassification. The work was fascinating and exhilarating, but the poor technical quality of the tapes frequently required that I listen to the same words dozens of times, sometimes to no avail. It was, notwithstanding, a historian's ultimate fantasy -- a chance to be a fly on the wall during one of the most dangerous moments in history, and to know, within the technical limits of the recordings, exactly what happened. I spent just over a year on the tapes, and in 1983 I received an award for "careful and perceptive editing and proofreading of the JFK tapes" from the archivist of the United States. From 1983 to 1997 the library declassified twenty-two hours of tapes, and I continued to review them before each declassification.
Imagine my surprise when, in the summer of 1997, I learned that Harvard University Press was about to publish The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis,edited by Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow -- complete transcripts of all twenty-two hours.Read more ›
The book is an actual copy (i.e. transcript) of taped conversations that occurred in the Whitehouse during the Cuban Missile crisis. The book was so fascinating for the sole fact that it presents (true to life) all the details which were actually being spoken of, on, about, etc. The reader can actually sense the emotion, tension, anguish, and despair that comes out in some of these conversations. In fact, the intensity in this book puts the movie to shame (which is usually the case with most good books).
This book consists of conversation's of the National Security Council, President Kennedy,Robert Kennedy, and the President's advisors. The book is very revealing and honest (since it is true to life) and it paints a very vulnerable picture of just how easy things could fall apart in this 'invincible' place we call home. Fortunately, we as readers today actually know the outcome is positive. However, the terror comes through the pages when, as I read, the realization that these men have no idea what is going to happen as this whole situation unfolds. That was one of the riveting things about this book.
Overall, this is a great book for those who are interested in American history, or Presidential history, etc. I recommend it, especially since it is so fascinating and also because it is an actual account word for word accurate. That makes for great objective history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Highly recommended for those who are fascinated with the Kennedy administration and international politics of the period. Read morePublished 11 months ago by David S. Jenkins
Fascinating but scary to hear first hand accounts of what people were thinking at the time. The Generals always seem to want to wage war, thankfully the diplomats counter their... Read morePublished on December 10, 2013 by Paul Consiglio
Averting The Final Failure by Sheldon Stern is a far superior book. It is also based on the Excom tapes. The author discusses several glaring mistakes made by May and Zelikow. Read morePublished on January 4, 2012 by Brookbird34
why did it not say in the description that the book had creases from shelving until i got it?
i cant say watch out for things like this because you won't see them until you... Read more
What makes this book of transcripts stand out from other books of its type is the well written introductions to each section. Read morePublished on November 24, 2010 by Riley
(I'm reviewing the hardback, unabridged edition from 1997, not the "concise edition" available here. Read morePublished on August 9, 2009 by Kevin Paulk
Have you ever wondered what is being said behind closed doors, in those places where important decisions are made?. If you have, Ernest R. May and Philip D. Read morePublished on September 18, 2004 by B. Alcat
The Authors, Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow, (both billed as editors-supposedly of the tapes) are members of the super-evil Council on Foreign Relations (CFR,) a secret... Read morePublished on February 8, 2004