9780393084412

The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis: The Secret White House Tapes

Coleman, David G.

ISBN 10: 0393084418 / 0-393-08441-8
ISBN 13: 9780393084412
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: 2012
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:

A fly-on-the-wall narrative of the Oval Office in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, using JFK’s secret White House tapes.

On October 28, 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba. Popular history has marked that day as the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a seminal moment in American history. As President Kennedy’s secretly recorded White House tapes now reveal, the reality was not so simple. Nuclear missiles were still in Cuba, as were nuclear bombers, short-range missiles, and thousands of Soviet troops. From October 29, Kennedy had to walk a very fine line—push hard enough to get as much nuclear weaponry out of Cuba as possible, yet avoid forcing the volatile Khrushchev into a combative stance. On the domestic front, an election loomed and the press was bristling at White House “news management.” Using new material from the tapes, historian David G. Coleman puts readers in the Oval Office during one of the most highly charged, and in the end most highly regarded, moments in American history. 20 photographs

Review:
On the thirteenth day, October 28, 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba. Conventional wisdom has marked that day as the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis, one of the most highly charged, and in the end most highly regarded, moments of American history. Yet the next day, the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (Excomm) met as they had the previous thirteen days. As he opened the meeting, Kennedy had many things on his mind, but one issue stood out as the most urgent: verifying that Khrushchev was honoring his promise to remove "the arms which you described as offensive." The crisis had been sparked by one audacious lie; how could the Americans be sure this wasn't yet another trick, designed to buy time for the Soviet nuclear forces in Cuba to prepare for action? And even if it wasn't, how could the Americans be sure that the Soviets were removing all of the missiles, and not diverting some to the many caves that dotted Cuba? On the fourteenth day, the reality on the ground remained dangerous: the missiles were still in Cuba, as were short-range nuclear missiles, nuclear bombers, nuclear submarines, and tens of thousands of Soviet troops. And in the days, weeks, and months that followed, Kennedy's struggles were far from over. Midterm elections loomed, in which Democrats were expected to lose seats. The press, frustrated with the lack of access during the first thirteen days, was clamoring for information and accusing the White House of increasingly draconian "news management." Through it all, Kennedy's tapes kept running. Using new material from these secret recordings, historian David Coleman puts readers in the Oval Office during perhaps the most dramatic foreign policy crisis in America's history, as one of America's greatest leaders fought to redefine his presidency, and ultimately his legacy.

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