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7/7/09 1:25 AM Book Review - 'One Minute to Midnight - Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Cast…n the Brink of Nuclear War,' by Michael Dobbs - Review - Page 1 of 4 ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. By Michael Dobbs. Illustrated. 426 pp. Alfred. A. Knopf. $28.95. June 22, 2008 Real W.M.D.’s By RICHARD HOLBROOKE Any new entry in the crowded field of books on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis must pass an immediate test: Is it just another recapitulation, or does it increase our net understanding of this seminal cold war event? By focusing on the activities of the American, Soviet and Cuban militaries during those tense October days, Michael Dobbs’s “One Minute to Midnight” passes this test with flying colors. The result is a book with sobering new information about the world’s only superpower nuclear confrontation — as well as contemporary relevance. Dobbs, a reporter for The Washington Post, states his central thesis concisely in a description of the state of play on Oct. 25, the 10th day of the crisis: “The initial reactions of both leaders had been bellicose. Kennedy had favored an air strike; Khrushchev thought seriously about giving his commanders in Cuba authority to use nuclear weapons. After much agonizing, both were now determined to find a way out that would not involve armed conflict. The problem was that it was practically impossible for them to communicate frankly with one another. Each knew very little about the intentions and motivations of the other side, and tended to assume the worst. Messages took half a day to deliver. . .. The question was no longer whether the leaders of the two superpowers wanted war — but whether they had the power to prevent it.” Ten days earlier, a U-2 spy plane had produced photographic evidence that the Soviets were sneaking nuclear missiles into Cuba. In “High Noon in the Cold War,” published four years ago, Max Frankel described this reckless action as “worthy of the horse at Troy.” Within hours of the discovery, Kennedy made a decision: the United States would not tolerate the missiles remaining in Cuba. During the next week, a small group of officials who would go down in history as the Executive Committee, or ExComm, deliberated in total secrecy. Most narratives focus on the
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7/7/09 1:25 AM Book Review - 'One Minute to Midnight - Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Cast…n the Brink of Nuclear War,' by Michael Dobbs - Review - Page 2 of 4 dramatic debates in the Cabinet Room, during which America’s leaders changed their positions frequently as they searched desperately for the proper mix of diplomatic and military pressure. Dobbs gives relatively short shrift to that first week, covering it in only 54 pages. His focus —
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2010 for the course INTA 2100 taught by Professor Salamone during the Summer '06 term at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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