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The Missiles of October: The Declassified Story of John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis Hardcover – October, 1992

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on newly declassified material, Thompson's thoughtful reassessment confirms the Soviet claim that the Americans were preparing an all-out invasion of Cuba, that Khrushchev placed missiles in Cuba to forestall it and that President Kennedy, in order to resolve the ensuing crisis, made many more concessions than he publicly admitted. This is the first study to treat JFK's handling of the Cuban missile crisis primarily in terms of presidential weakness: "The Bay of Pigs was a failure. Laos was a failure. Vienna was a failure. JFK needed a victory, desperately." Thompson ( A Time for War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Path to Pearl Harbor ) describes Kennedy's efforts to give the impression of standing up to the Russians and winning a great victory, when in fact he was forced to agree privately to the Soviet leader's terms--pledging not to invade Cuba and trading withdrawal of U.S. missiles in Turkey for withdrawal of Soviet missiles in Cuba--while hoping that his political enemies would not find out. The author concludes that Khruschev "beat Kennedy in Vienna" and "beat him again in Cuba." A controversial slant on one of the most dangerous moments in history. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Scholarship concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis has had a resurgence due to the recent declassification of pertinent government documents by the United States and the former Soviet Union. Thompson (international relations, Univ. of South Carolina; author of A Time for War , LJ 7/91) revisits what is now familiar territory in telling the story behind the Cuban Missile Crisis. The author begins with U.S. policies toward the Caribbean at the end of World War II and ends with the resolution of the crisis and an account of the key participants at the time of President Kennedy's assassination. Thompson's subtitle leads the reader to expect some new revelation, but the book delivers nothing of substance that hasn't been discussed in more detail by Michael Beschloss in The Crisis Years ( LJ 6/1/91) or by Dino Brugioni in Eyeball to Eyeball ( LJ 11/15/91). Still, this work will fit well into the collections of public and undergraduate academic libraries looking for a general history of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Robert Favini, Bentley Coll. Lib., Waltham, Mass.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (October 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671768069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671768065
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,029,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In Robert Smith Thompson's recounting of the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Missiles of October, the
whole story of the tense standoff between the United States, Russia, and Cuba unfolds into a
suspenseful, detailed, yet sometimes confusing story. Although reading the book's jacket cover,
or having some knowledge of world history, lets the reader know how the story ends, The
Missiles of October still reads more like a suspense novel than a non-fiction history book.
Thompson leaves no details out, and makes sure that readers are well informed of all the events
that led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The book starts in 1945, as the United States is dropping
the atomic bomb on Japan, and ends on November 22, 1963, the day JFK is assassinated. The
material in between covers the missile crisis in its entirety, and brings new details to light that the
public was not aware of.
While The Missiles of October is chock-full of information, it sometimes feels as if too
much of it is given. For instance, on page 344, Thompson writes, "On Sunday afternoon,
television viewers watched their beloved Washington Redskins up in Yankee Stadium, receiving a
49 to 34 shellacking at the hands of the New York Giants." Information like this is littered
throughout the book, but it does not really enhance the story, or the reading experience.
Furthermore, at some points, so much information is given that it is not only an annoyance, but
also confusing for the reader. Another problem is that Thompson alludes semi-frequently to the
"TFX Scandal" only to touch on it briefly at the end of the book. Despite these shortcomings,
though, The Missiles of October is a very enjoyable, well researched piece of work.
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Format: Hardcover
With the release of the movie 'Eleven Days' and the holding of Al Queda prisoners at Cuba's Gauntanamo Bay, this story is very timely, despite being 40 years old.
Robert Thompson Smith pieces together the story of how the Cuban missile crisis unfolded and how it became resolved and the resolution may not be the way many of us understand it to be. Thompson Smith uses reports from the time and also official U.S. Government documents released in 1992 to give as true an account as possible about the secretive meetings between politicians, diplomats and bureaucrats. What I found most interesting was the decline of the relationship between the U.S., U.S.S.R and Cuba post WW2, which explains why the crisis developed in the first place. It also gives an excellen history of U.S./Cuban relations.
His writing style is humorous, if at times a little disjointed, and he's not afraid to make quips about a public figure's weight, personality or sexual activity (JFK in particular). It's one of those stories where even though you know what happens in the end you still are held in suspense, a credit to the authors ability to maintain the intrigue. There are comments and interpretations which have to be questioned given that we, nor the author, were there, but on the whole the author keeps an objective view on the situation. The aggressive nature of some of the military heirarchy and their willingness to go to war is astounding. No matter what you may think of Kennedy his ability to resist these advisors is admirable.
The only down side is that he seems to drag the early part of the crisis out, where the reader is keen to get into the nitty gritty we're still in the preliminaries at page 200.
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By jt on October 3, 2014
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Format: Hardcover
The trouble with history, particularly modern history, is that events can be interpreted and presented in different ways. Consider, for instance, the assasination of President John F. Kennedy. Some books, such as Jim Bishop's The Day Kennedy Was Shot and Gerald Posner's Case Closed, point the finger at Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman. Others, such as David Lifton's Best Evidence, claim there was a vast conspiracy to shoot Kennedy in Dallas, Texas and to cover this violent coup d'etat up so Lyndon Johnson could be President and escalate the Vietnam War. I don't believe the conspiracy theorists and they'll never get a dime from me, but nevertheless there are plenty of people who do believe Lifton and his other "there was a second gunman in the grassy knoll" compadres. By taking a fact here, adding a supposition there, and by presenting information selectively to make it fit an author's particular slant, any historical event can be revised...even making outrageous claims seem very credible.
Of all the events in President Kennedy's 1,000 day administration (other than the tragedy at Dealey Plaza 40 years ago), perhaps the one that everyone remembers is the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. In most accounts, JFK is taken by surprise when U-2 spy planes photograph Soviet intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM's) being set up on the island of Cuba, only 90 miles away from U.S. shores. Galvanized by this bit of Soviet sleight of hand, the President and his advisers courageously mobilize American forces, improvise a non-invasive strategy of "quarantining" the communist-ruled island and stare down the wily Khruschev and make the Soviet leader decide between removing the missiles or starting a nuclear war.
I admit that I am not a scholar on the Cold War.
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