An insider's tellingly detailed and chilling recap of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Drawing on his firsthand experience as a senior staff member at the CIA's National Photographic Interpretation Center, interviews with surviving principals, and archival sources, Brugioni offers a comprehensive overview of the confrontation that very nearly plunged the world into nuclear war. But before getting down to business on the critical two-week period that climaxed on October 28 with Moscow's agreement to withdraw offensive weapons systems, he provides valuable background on the development of America's aerial reconnaissance capabilities during the Eisenhower Administration and JFK's ongoing problems with the Castro regime. His stage set, Brugioni settles into a wide-ranging, day-by-day narrative that sheds new light on virtually every aspect of the emergency. Cases in point run from when Soviet missiles of varying ranges were actually detected on the Caribbean island through how the White House kept allies informed, why the US military was put on full alert, the extent to which naval forces blockaded (or ""quarantined,"" in the language of diplomacy) Cuban waters, the crucial go-between role played by ABC-TV's John Scali in Khrushchev's capitulation, where the USSR secreted its warheads, and the reasons Washington did not press for on-site verification by UN representatives once the worse dangers were over. Nor does Brugioni neglect the human side of the potentially deadly encounter. He conveys, for example, the disdain of eider statesman Dean Acheson for the unstructured chaos of the ad hoc advisory meetings convened, without agendas, by one or both of the Kennedy brothers. Without overdramatic comment, the author also recalls phoning his wife to ask her to head for Missouri with their children should the nation's capital be attacked on Saturday the 27th. A definite briefing on one of modern history's landmark events.