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One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro,…
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One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1997; vuoden 1998 painos)

Tekijä: Aleksandr Fursenko (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
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A look at newly opened Russian archives reveals just how close we got to nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Jäsen:RichProcida
Teoksen nimi:One Hell of a Gamble: Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Kirjailijat:Aleksandr Fursenko (Tekijä)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (1998), 420 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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"One Hell of a Gamble": Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964 (tekijä: Aleksandr Fursenko) (1997)

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näyttää 4/4
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. ( )
  RobertDay | Dec 15, 2022 |
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. ( )
  nandadevi | Jul 22, 2015 |
2423. "One Hell of a Gamble": Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy, 1958-1964, by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali (read Mar 22, 2001) Since I read Michael Beschloss's The Crisis Years as recently as October 2000, I suppose reading this book was not necessary, but this book has the benefit of Soviet documents which Beschloss did not have access to. October 1962 was a scary time and I was caught up by the realization of the nearness we came to nuclear war in 1962. It is chilling to read of the arguments made in Washington which if they had been accepted would have precipitated such a war. This was an excellent book to read, and makes one realize how pale in comparison is the superficial excitement of books such as Clancy or Nelson DeMille turn out. ( )
  Schmerguls | Nov 24, 2007 |
As one who lived through the Cuban missile crisis this book had a more than academic interest. I was living in south Florida at the time and still remember the conversations about what was going to happen and when.
The book is significant since it was written by a Russian and an American and utilized sources that have just become available. It clearly shows just how close to all out war the situation was. It provides a great example of the errors made by each side in their understanding of their adversary. President Kennedy gets high marks for holding the leash on his generals and avoiding war. Castro is portrayed as a reckless leader whose decisions were a significant ingredient to the situation and was very willing pull the trigger on nuclear war.
The greatest lesson of the whole situation is how the concept of the Cold War distorted the reality of the political situation and almost led to an incredibly destructive war. The only caveat I have to recommending the book is that it is very dry and written mostly for academics who read for work and not based upon interest. ( )
  wildbill | Sep 19, 2007 |
näyttää 4/4
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A look at newly opened Russian archives reveals just how close we got to nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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