A briskly charted tale of the neglected denouement of the defining event of JFK’s presidency.

THE FOURTEENTH DAY

JFK AND THE AFTERMATH OF THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS: THE SECRET WHITE HOUSE TAPES

A historian looks at the crisis-related problems remaining on President John F. Kennedy’s desk in the immediate wake of the Cold War’s most dangerous moment.

Coleman (History/Univ. of Virginia; co-author, Real-World Nuclear Deterrence: The Making of International Strategy, 2006) reminds us that for Kennedy and his advisors, the crisis played out for months afterward, really until February 1963. Drawing heavily from the secret White House tapes, the author reconstructs the debates within the administration on at least three issues of greatest concern. First, notwithstanding Krushchev’s agreement to withdraw “the weapons you call offensive” from Cuba, serious questions remained as to what exactly he meant. Long-range nuclear weapons, of course, but did the Soviet premier intend to include bombers, Russian combat troops and short-range missiles? Moreover, with Cuba vetoing any ground inspections, how would the United States verify that the missiles were gone? Second, satisfying the American public on this score was part of what drove JFK’s determination to channel and control the story, and to counter the inevitable Republican charges of mismanagement of and responsibility for the possible intelligence failure the nuclear showdown exposed. Third, this effort exacerbated an ongoing battle with the press about the administration’s tight hold over information, needless restrictions, critics charged, that enabled the government to “manage the news” for its own political ends. Coleman treats Kennedy well, calling his authorization of warrantless wiretaps on journalists merely “dubious,” skipping lightly over the administration’s willingness to appease public concern by exposing intelligence collection capabilities, and generally approving of the president’s unwillingness to press Krushchev too far on Russian concessions.

A briskly charted tale of the neglected denouement of the defining event of JFK’s presidency.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-08441-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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