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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House…
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis

by Ernest R. May, Philip Zelikow

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224280,198 (4.24)1
The United States and the Soviet Union stood eyeball to eyeball, each brandishing enough nuclear weapons to obliterate each other's civilization. It was one of the most dangerous moments in world history. Day by day, for two weeks, an executive committee formed around elements of President Kennedy's National Security Council debated what to do, twice coming to the brink of attacking Soviet military units in Cuba - units equipped for nuclear retaliation. And through it all, unknown to any of the participants except the President himself - and possibly his brother Robert - tape was rolling, capturing for posterity the deliberations that might have ended the world as we know it. These are the full and authenticated transcripts of those audio recordings. Arguably the most important document in the history of the Cuban missile crisis, these transcripts are also a unique window on a drama rarely if ever witnessed by those outside the halls of power: the moment-by-moment decision-making of those with the fate of the West in their hands in a constantly changing, world-threatening situation. At the center of it all is President Kennedy, wary of experts after the debacle of the Bay of Pigs, puzzled and distrustful after confrontation with Khrushchev in Vienna over Berlin, and ever mindful of the responsibility symbolized by the satchel his military aides hold nearby, containing the codes to unleash nuclear warfare. Other participants in the deliberations are identified and put securely into their context by the editors, whose introduction illuminates this singular crisis in a framework spanning several administrations and whose conclusions, incorporating Khrushchev's thinking, show this to be the climax of the Cold War.… (more)

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This is fantastic. Includes transcripts of key meetings where top US policy makers and the military discuss the evolving situation in Cuba. Each chapter begins with a summary description of information that puts the deliberations into context or otherwise refers to the outcomes of meetings, world events etc that do not form part of the transcripts. This makes for a wonderful history of the crisis and provides much more than the transcripts alone.

That said, it is the opportunity to read exactly what was said and by whom that makes this book unique and truly fascinating. While reading it, I constantly tried to forget that I knew the outcome and to put myself in Kennedy's position, weighing up the often conflicting advice he was receiving.

Anyone wishing to learn about the history of the missile crisis or gain a detailed insight into top echelon decision making on national security in the US must read this brilliant book. ( )
  cwhouston | Nov 21, 2010 |
A great read for anyone interested in JFK or the Cuban Missile Crisis. It allows the reader to see exactly what was said and how each member of his council and how JFK felt. A unique view into the Cuban Missile Crisis. The movie, "Thirteen Days" was based off of this book as well as other research. ( )
  Angelic55blonde | Jun 30, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ernest R. Mayprimary authorall editionscalculated
Zelikow, Philipmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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