THE BRINK: Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 by David Detzer

THE BRINK: Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

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By general consensus, the confrontation with the Soviet Union over offensive missiles in Cuba--set against the background of the Berlin crisis--moved the superpowers as close to war as they have ever gotten. This agreement is based on a fairly thorough knowledge of what transpired at the ""highest levels"" of government. Detzer does nothing to dispel this consensus, but he also adds nothing new to the dramatic scenario. After setting the stage--a reasonably balanced view of Castro's Cuba, the excesses of U.S. policy highlighted by the Bay of Pigs invasion, the temperamental character of the Kennedy Administration, the ""missile-gap"" controversy and the Soviet fear of losing out in the arms race--Detzer settles into a routine recounting of the day-by-day build-up to the confrontation, cataloging the debate among policy-makers over the options of invasion, bombing, or quarantine. The initial reaction was to strike immediately at Cuba, but some (the Joint Chiefs, Kennedy himself) leaned this way in order to ""punish"" the Cubans, while others (Fulbright) felt a strike to be less dangerous than a blockade of Soviet ships. The quarantine option, of course, won out. The profiles also are not new--Bobby Kennedy experiencing moral qualms about bombing while endorsing stepped-up CIA assaults; Adlai Stevenson being defamed as a coward for seeking moderation. Neither is the denouement in a Washington restaurant with correspondent John Scali and a KGB agent acting as conduits for their governments. The Russians backed-off, the missiles were removed, and a confrontation that was in large measure manufactured--Kennedy's tough stance, Detzer makes clear, was dictated by domestic party politics--subsided. Detzer's got the whole story, but it's already played on TV.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1979
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell