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The Bay of Pigs (Pivotal Moments in American History) 1st Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195173833
ISBN-10: 019517383X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brief, standard survey, University of Alabama historian Jones (Mutiny on the Amistad) concludes that the 1961 CIA-engineered Bay of Pigs invasion marked a new direction in [U.S.] foreign policy by combining military force and assassination. When Castro's seizure of power in 1959 led to mass executions and bellicose anti-American rhetoric, President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to draft a plan for Castro's overthrow. The plan included Castro's assassination and landing a brigade of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. Pressed by building Cold War anxiety in his ranks, President Kennedy approved the plan after taking office in 1961, but reduced air cover in order to conceal U.S. involvement, and an invasion built on questionable premises and dubious assumptions quickly foundered. While the abortive invasion solidified Castro's rule, the author says, failure didn't deter Kennedy, whose administration made the overthrow of Castro its central focus. Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jones's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change. 30 b&w illus; maps. (Aug.)
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Review


"A readable and concise study of the events leading to the military and political disaster in April 1961...This book should be must reading for our two presidential candidates and their staffs."--St. Petersburg Times


"Jones has crafted an exceedingly impressive history of this tragic event that should stand as the definitive treatment for years to come. Essential for all history collections." --Library Journal (starred review)


"Jones, University Research Professor of History at UA and the author of Mutiny on the Amistad, tells this story not in a single page but in nearly hypnotic detail. He has researched the events with great care and thoroughness, using now-declassified records from the CIA, Senate committee hearings, and a host of other sources."--Tuscaloosa News


"A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War... With remarkable efficiency, Jones... examines all aspects of the debacle... May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate."--Kirkus Reviews


"Howard Jones's The Bay of Pigs broke new ground both with documentation and interpretation. In doing so, he also painted a broader Cold War brush in showed the foreign relations legacy of both the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis."--Cold War Times Magazine


"A concise and highly informative account of the planning and execution of this foreign policy debacle...An excellent revisiting of a tragic episode of the cold war."---Booklist


"Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jones's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change."--Publishers Weekly


"The Bay of Pigs, based on deep research, is a hard-hitting history of the Cold War mentality that led American leaders not only to back a badly flawed invasion but also to plot all manner of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and others in his circle."--James T. Patterson, author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore


"An unsparing portrait of an epic disaster, a tale of overreach, incompetence, hubris and self-delusion, of every level of American government at its worst. The Bay of Pigs had far-reaching consequences, and from Howard Jones' account it becomes clear why."--James Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin


"This is the definitive history of John F. Kennedy's greatest policy calamity. More thoroughly researched than any previous work on the subject, it is also succinct, nuanced, and exquisitely balanced in its treatment of the president and the CIA."--Brian Latell, author of After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba's Revolution, and Senior Research Associate, Cuba Studies, University of Miami


"Howard Jones has written a page-turner, beginning the moment he describes Fidel Castro's planes roaring out of Havana and heading toward the helpless Cuban exile brigade on Red Beach. He also shows conclusively how the invasion-poorly planned, driven by self-deception and inertia-solidified Castro's rule, destroyed U.S.-Cuban relations, and reinforced the American government's paranoia that any criticism of its foreign policy constituted a threat to nation security."--Stephen Schwab, retired CIA official currently teaching at the University of Alabama


"A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War... With remarkable efficiency, Jones... examines all aspects of the debacle... May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate."--Kirkus Reviews


"Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jones's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change."--Publishers Weekly


"The Bay of Pigs, based on deep research, is a hard-hitting history of the Cold War mentality that led American leaders not only to back a badly flawed invasion but also to plot all manner of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and others in his circle."--James T. Patterson, author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore


"An unsparing portrait of an epic disaster, a tale of overreach, incompetence, hubris and self-delusion, of every level of American government at its worst. The Bay of Pigs had far-reaching consequences, and from Howard Jones' account it becomes clear why."--James Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin


"This is the definitive history of John F. Kennedy's greatest policy calamity. More thoroughly researched than any previous work on the subject, it is also succinct, nuanced, and exquisitely balanced in its treatment of the president and the CIA."--Brian Latell, author of After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba's Revolution, and Senior Research Associate, Cuba Studies, University of Miami


"Howard Jones has written a page-turner, beginning the moment he describes Fidel Castro's planes roaring out of Havana and heading toward the helpless Cuban exile brigade on Red Beach. He also shows conclusively how the invasion-poorly planned, driven by self-deception and inertia-solidified Castro's rule, destroyed U.S.-Cuban relations, and reinforced the American government's paranoia that any criticism of its foreign policy constituted a threat to nation security."--Stephen Schwab, retired CIA official currently teaching at the University of Alabama


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Product Details

  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019517383X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195173833
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,442,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
On April 17, 1961, approximately 1500 Cuban exiles trained and supported by the United States launched an ill-fated invasion against Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs in southwest Cuba. The Bay of Pigs invasion occurred early in the presidency of John F. Kennedy and constituted one of the great foreign policy missteps of the United States during the Cold War. In his new book in the "Pivotal Moments in American History" series of Oxford University Press, Howard Jones offers a succinct and sobering account of the Bay of Pigs and its aftermath. Written with quiet restraint, Jones's book has much to teach about American interventionist tendencies in Cuba and elswhere. Howard Jones is University Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama. He has written extensively on American history.

Jones shows the many tangled threads in the Bay of Pigs story. Following Castro's ascension to power in Cuba and his increasing hostility to the United States, the Eisenhower Administration authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to plan and conduct what became the Bay of Pigs invasion. With the momentum the plan had gathered, the new president, Kennedy, allowed the proposed overthrow of Castro to continue. Kennedy was indeed an active participant and changed the original plan in several respects. In addition to the invasion by the Cuban exiles, the plan had several components that Jones documents well in his study. The CIA engaged in dealings with the Mafia in a plan to assassinate Castro before the invasion. The invasion also relied popular insurrection in Cuba to displace the Castro regime after the exile force had established a beachhead.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
John F. Kennedy inherited the Bay of Pigs plan from Dwight Eisenhower, who, in one of his last official acts, had ordered the CIA to rub out the Cuban revolution. Tiny Cuba was no threat to the U.S., but Castro had nationalized American property and Washington feared that Castro-ism could spread to other parts of Latin America. The CIA's plan involved landing a brigade of 1,500 anti-communist Cubans on a beach in Cuba and then waiting for the population to rise up against Castro. The plan looked straightforward on paper. In reality, the CIA had bad intelligence on Cuba and no experience with amphibious invasions. Within days, the invaders were overwhelmed by Castro's vastly superior forces.

The fiasco exposed an amazing level of dysfunction in the U.S. government. Incredibly, Kennedy was adamant that U.S. fingerprints be kept off the operation, yet he didn't ask hard questions of the CIA and he went along with the plan because the "experts" told.him it would succeed. Grown ups in the State Department and the military who should have been deeply involved were instead marginalized by the CIA on spurious security grounds. It is likely the CIA itself suspected that the plan was unworkable but went ahead anyway in the expectation that Kennedy would send in the Marines rather than accept a humiliating defeat. Few officials cared about international law or gave a hoot about lying to the American public. Duplicity, scheming, and miscommunication are rife in DC. Ordinarily they are a source of low comedy, but not when they are part of aggression against a small country. The U.S. defeat at the Bay of Pigs solidified Castro's hold on power. The U.S. got what it deserved.
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Format: Hardcover
The Bay of Pigs operation has gone down in history as one of the pivotal acts of the Cold War. It was a military disaster and an embarrasment. It angered a generation of Cuban-Americans. It, apparently, made Castro more paranoid than he already was. It helped to engender the Cuban Missle Crises and it marked the high water mark of CIA sponsored swashbuckling. It has forever frustrated Kennedy lovers into finding ways to claim that the new president had no idea about it and that it was foisted upon him by Eisenhower's men, so that JFK's legacy would not be tarnisher either by failure or by the kind of reckless pre-emption that those who love Kennedy so often condemn in other Presidents.

But for all the words spilled over the Bay of Pigs it has rarely been given a fare shake or a full accounting. Most of the books on the operation either examine one part of it or are old and dated.

This book provides a full background of the invasion, its planning and its aftermath and meaning. It provides an inside look at the Kennedy administration and the decisions not to provide air support and the subsequent failure of the invasion. It gives a very fair account of what happaned and is not bogged down by rhetoric or politics. This is an important and timely contribution to the stroy of the Bay of Pigs, America and the Cold War.

Seth J. Frantzman
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
University of Alabama historian Dr. Howard Jones has written an excellent one volume history of the U.S. government's attempts to eliminate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the 1960s. The book is titled The Bay of Pigs and Jones does a great job of writing a compelling and accurate portrayal of the disaster that was the Bay of Pigs operation but this book is so much more than that. Jones places the Bay of Pigs in the context of the Eisenhower and then Kennedy administration's overall anti-Castro policies. He discusses at length the various options debated by American policymakers in the White House.

The details of what happened at the Bay of Pigs are well known and have been told elsewhere but Jones makes great use of the CIA's release of documents collectively known as the "family jewels" to revise the picture on the depth of CIA involvement in what culminated at the Bay of Pigs.

Another thing that I found particularly helpful is that Jones doesn't stop the story after the defeat of the Cuban exiles. In discussing the subsequent policies advocated by both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations until 1965 Jones makes it quite clear that hardly anybody in the White House seemed to learn the proper lessons of the disaster at the Bay of Pigs. Jones, I think makes it clear that absent the escalating war in Vietnam and problems elsewhere on the globe the United States may have blundered in to a second Bay of Pigs, except this one would have been backed up by the U.S. military.

Jones gets a little conspiratorial when he discusses the potential connection between the Kennedy administration's Cuba policy and the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Although even there he makes use of new evidence released by the CIA in the 1990s.
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