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Averting 'The Final Failure': John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) Hardcover – July 11, 2003
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But now, Stern has put it in book form, and if ever the devil was in the details, this book is a glorious teaching opportunity to show students how details and exact evidence are indispensable -- especially in a 9/11 age where imprecise Intelligence can have huge consequences at home and abroad. Certainly Intelligence proved breathtakingly faulty before and during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, and the consequences then were almost cataclysmic, as Stern's book demonstrates in chilling chapter and verse.
The Cuban missile crisis is a history teacher's dream assignment anyway, for its layers and layers of historiographical changes, as new revelations have kept trickling out, not only with the gradual release of the ExComm tapes, but also Soviet sources after the Cold War ended. Stern's volume makes this "crystal," and breaks through student glaze, by showing as well as any monograph I have ever read how once in a while an historian really can become the proverbial fly on the wall during momentous spoken history. Check out the moments when General Curtis LeMay provocatively invokes Munich, or JFK snaps uncharacteristically at Dean Rusk, or the Cabinet room almost goes nuts when the U-2 gets shot down.Read more ›
Newly declassified and available, Stern has added immensly to the growing amount of literature/transcripts of these profound tapes. The difference here is that Stern is clearly the one who has spent the most time and study on these tapes and, coupled with his surprisingly apt story-telling capability, has developed an authoritative work that defines the "who? what? where? when? and how?" of the Kennedy advisor "inner-workings". Time and again, Stern destroys myths and legends as his narrative describes each meeting and the theme that each one invoked. He interprets each discussion and adds his own attempt at tone and voice inflection to give not only the content of the discussion, but the "atmosphere" as well. The result is almost as good as hearing the tapes themselves...giving the true feel for what these "Best and Brightest" advisors went through.Read more ›
We often hear the term, "loose cannon" to describe a reckless, irresponsible individual. While reading Averting the Final Failure, I was reminded of a Victor Hugo story, "The Runaway Gun." Finally, I had to find it and read it again. Hugo tells of a cannon that is improperly secured aboard a sailing vessel. It comes loose in a storm; as the ship rolls, so does the cannon. It seems certain the gun will burst through the wooden planking and sink the ship. A man is killed trying to get a rope around it. Nobody can stop it. It is as if it were alive.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I lived through this as a high school student but never realized just how close to nuclear war we really came.Published on February 21, 2010 by Marvin R. Doering
This book may be the most readable (for being a narrative) account of those challenging days when our great and elected President brought us back from the brink of nuclear war and... Read morePublished on August 28, 2007 by Love Thy Enemy
While reading Sheldon Stern's book, I felt as if I were having a conversation with him. Relating the facts of that event in a manner and detail that made this reader want to know... Read morePublished on April 4, 2004 by poodles
Stern has offered the most complete understanding of the Cuban missile crisis, and of Kennedy himself, in this the most intimate account of those October days, drawn directly from... Read morePublished on December 6, 2003 by Herbert S. Parmet