One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

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One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

Author: Michael Dobbs
Publisher: Knopf
Copyright: 2008
Pages: 448
Cover Price: $ 28.95

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In October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union appeared to be sliding inexorably toward a nuclear conflict over the placement of missiles in Cuba. Veteran Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs has pored over previously untapped American, Soviet, and Cuban sources to produce the most authoritative book yet on the Cuban missile crisis. In his hour-by-hour chronicle of those near-fatal days, Dobbs reveals some startling new incidents that illustrate how close we came to Armageddon.

Here, for the first time, are gripping accounts of Khrushchev’s plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo; the accidental overflight of the Soviet Union by an American spy plane; the movement of Soviet nuclear warheads around Cuba during the tensest days of the crisis; the activities of CIA agents inside Cuba; and the crash landing of an American F-106 jet with a live nuclear weapon on board.

Dobbs takes us inside the White House and the Kremlin as Kennedy and Khrushchev—rational, intelligent men separated by an ocean of ideological suspicion—agonize over the possibility of war. He shows how these two leaders recognized the terrifying realities of the nuclear age while Castro—never swayed by conventional political considerations—demonstrated the messianic ambition of a man selected by history for a unique mission. As the story unfolds, Dobbs brings us onto the decks of American ships patrolling Cuba; inside sweltering Soviet submarines and missile units as they ready their warheads; and onto the streets of Miami, where anti-Castro exiles plot the dictator’s overthrow.

Background Information

The Cold War was the worldwide conflict between the western democracies and Communist states, particularly the USSR. When the Soviet Union was caught trying to bring nuclear missiles into Cuba in 1961, the world was brought to the brink of World War III. The Central Intelligence Agency succeeded the Office of Strategic Services after World War II as the country's espionage service. Fidel Castro led the revolution that deposed the dictator Fulgencio Batista from Cuba on New Years Day, 1959. Miami, Florida, was reached by the railroad just before the 20th century and boomed throughout the century due to its tropical climate.