Aleksandr Fursenko (1927–2008)

Teoksen "One Hell of a Gamble": Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964 tekijä

5 teosta 368 jäsentä 6 arvostelua

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St. Petersburg, Russia
Russian Academy of Sciences



A highly detailed account of the political and military events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, jointly written by American and Russian academics and using declassified primary source papers. We get to see not only the detailed discussions within the White House, but also within the Kremlin. We are introduced to many of the other players as well as the leaders - Fidel Castro, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, his brother Robert and Nikita Khrushchev are joined by Fidel's brother Raul (shown to be one of the major movers behind Cuba's relations with Moscow and the more dedicated communist), Ché Guevara, and most interestingly, three of the Soviet protagonists of the time: Anastas Mikoyan (brother to Artyem Mikoyan, the aircraft designer of MiG fame), who was Khrushchev's go-between; Aleksandr Alexeev, the highly personable and perceptive KGB resident in the region who became the USSR's ambassador in Havana; and Georgi Bolsakov, a Russian foreign correspondent (for real!) who found himself at the centre of various different back channels between Washington and Moscow.

We get an almost minute-by-minute account of events, from the time of the victory of Castro's revolutionaries through to almost the eve of Kennedy's assassination. We see how the whole crisis could have descended into nuclear war at any time had the wrong word been said, or the wrong decision taken (though I have heard of one incident where a Soviet submarine commander was determined to fire a nuclear-tipped torpedo at the US Fleet which is not recorded in this book). But we also get a lot of background, especially looking at American plans to overthrow the Castro regime (I was intrigued to hear about the CIA force being trained in Guatemala ahead of the Bay of Pigs incident, which included reference to Canadian-built Lancaster bombers); and at the other end of the timeline, the Russian reaction to Kennedy's assassination, which they put down to a conspiracy of right-wing elements in the USA dissatisfied with Kennedy's actions over Cuba and his avoidance of war. Khrushchev in particular took great pains to distance the Soviet Union from Lee Harvey Oswald; but in the end, it was Khrushchev's perceived weakness over Cuba in the Politburo that brought about his downfall.

The book is, as I said, highly detailed; indeed, for long sections, Cuba is not discussed and we get a detailed history of Cold War relations and various back-channel communications between the leaders of the two superpowers. I did find the book occasionally hard going, not because of the text itself, but the typesetting and layout. A page designed to maximise the amount of text shown, with quite narrow margins and gutter, is married to a typeface (Electra) which seems to pack a lot of text into the available space.

But that aside, I suspect that this is as good a source as we are likely to get (especially given the change in East-West relations since this book was published in 1997). It will be interesting to compare it with more populist and partisan works such as Max Hastings' recent history of the same events.
… (lisätietoja)
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RobertDay | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 15, 2022 |
History of Khrushchev Foreign Policy based on Soviet archival materials
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GSHale | 1 muu arvostelu | Apr 21, 2019 |
Remarkable much more for the story of Raul Castro than Fidel. That Raul, the friend (and agent) of the Soviet Union and the main architect of Soviet involvement in the Cuban misile crisis (far more than the comparatively moderate Fidel) should now be the one to oversee the re-establishment of relations with the US is one of the ironies of history. In some ways it's just as well that most politicians (seem) never to have picked up a book in their lives. Recommended if you have an interest in the history that goes beyond the veneer of headlines.… (lisätietoja)
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nandadevi | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 22, 2015 |
Updated and thorough biography of one of the most fiery leaders of the 20th century.
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HadriantheBlind | 1 muu arvostelu | Mar 29, 2013 |



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