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The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) Paperback – September 5, 2012
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"In Stern's judgment, President Kennedy displayed leadership, remaining calm during the crisis and staring down his belligerent civilian advisers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. . . Recommended."S. G. Rabe, CHOICE
"The latest addition to the outstanding Stanford Nuclear Age series . . . Informed and informative, The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality is a seminal work of impressive scholarship and a highly recommended addition to academic library 20th Century American History reference collections in general, and 'U.S. Soviet Union Cold War Studies' supplemental reading lists in particular."James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review
"The Cuban missile crisis may be the most thoroughly documented yet grossly misunderstood episode in Cold War history, and the value of Sheldon Stern's splendid book is that it punctures the myths and unearths the truth so compellingly, drawing on irrefutable evidence, that you'll never think about the crisis or about JFK and his 'best and brightest' advisers in the same way again."Fred Kaplan, Slate's "War Stories" columnist; author of 1959 and The Wizards of Armageddon
"For nearly half a century national security decision makers have relied on three lessons derived inappropriately from the Cuban missile crisis: success depends on (1) the threat of superior force, (2) toughness and inflexibility, and (3) the use of a small ad hoc group like the ExComm to advise the President. Sheldon Stern's trenchant analysis, based on the most careful and exacting review to date of the ExComm's recorded conversations, turns the three traditional missile crisis lessons on their head. He effectively demonstrates that the outcome depended on President Kennedy's repeated refusal to use or threaten to use force, and on his persistent search for a compromise that could end the stand-off peacefully. Most important, Stern highlights that the ExComm did not provide Kennedy with the well-considered advice he supposedly used to avoid war, but instead Kennedy directed its discussions towards the conclusions he sought. This is a clearly written, timely, and significant contribution to our understanding of the Cuban missile crisis."Philip Brenner, American University
"It has taken nearly 50 years to get a history of the Cuban missile crisis as it really was, as opposed to how it was initially (and for many decades) managed and manipulated by the Kennedy inner circle as well as gullible journalists and historians. For that we have Sheldon M. Stern to thank."Max Holland, Contributing Editor, The Nation, and Editor, washingtondecoded.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The book allows us to understand the confusion and stress that affect participants' advice. Many advisors contradicted themselves--almost never wtih acknowledgement that they were changing their minds, but simply by advocating different positions as the discussion proceeded. Remarkably, the only person in the meetings who seemed to have a touchstone to which he returned again and again was the President, John F. Kennedy. He was not swayed by the frenetic advice of his top officials who urged him to bomb the Cuban missile sites, board Soviet ships, or invade Cuba. He remained calm and focused throughout lengthy discussions with advisors who were all too ready to risk nuclear war.
The book lays waste to later claims of various participants that they were far-seeing statesmen who found a way to resolve the crisis with the Soviet Union. Put simply, those who claimed this lied. RFK was first among the liars with his self-serving account of the crisis in his book, Thirteen Days. He offered hawkish advice throughout and seemed obsessed with electoral politics at the expense of world safety. MacGeorge Bundy provided a steady flow of patronizing and hawkish advice to the President. This guy was supposed to be smart? Maybe in his own mind, but the actual record of what was said at the meetings showed him to be a pompous fool ready to plunge the world into war.Read more ›
I almost cried when the author described JFK making audio recordings of his thoughts about the crisis when it was in full swing and he was alone, at night, summarizing into the recorder. Not in the book. Just some references to the act and the flavor. Although not lost to history, there's a lot lost to history if you get my meaning.
So this is a good book for folks to get a summary of what "really" happened by an author who had the credibility required of the subject but not the inclination to let us decide from the dialogue ourselves. He recognizes the fact right off the bat like you will and points the reader to the availability of the source recordings on the web. So you really don't need to read the book if you're looking for the detailed perspective that the author and his reviewers portend this book provides. Go to the University of Virginia Miller Center of Public Affairs where you can hear the audio.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an account, by an historian who seems to have had a vendetta against everyone who had a role in the nation's response to the presence of offensive missiles in Cuba. Read morePublished on May 25, 2014 by JimD
This is one of the most remarkable books of all time. Not only does the author show how close to nuclear war the US and Soviet Union were, but through the tapes of almost all the... Read morePublished on November 30, 2013 by Brad Rockwell
The author does a good job of correcting some misconceptions about US deliberations during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Read morePublished on November 23, 2013 by A serious reader
History keeps unfolding, this book corrects many self serving misrepresentations made by politicians over the years. Loved the new information.Published on October 5, 2013 by mike
There has been so much speculation about the inner deliberations at the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis and finally a book comes along which provides the truth. Read morePublished on September 24, 2013 by Usha
The author has first hand knowledge of what was on the ExCom tapes that was made by President Kennedy. Read morePublished on September 19, 2013 by B. Klein
The author has spent many hours listening to the recordings of the deliberations of the Executive Committee, and therefore can point out the inaccuracies or downright falsehoods... Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by arabella
While this book covers the same territory (the tapes JFK made during the Cuban Missile Crisis) over and over, from different angles (covering the role of each of the most important... Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by Susan C