CUBA ON THE BRINK by James G. Blight


Castro, the Missile Crisis, and the Soviet Collapse
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 Verbatim proceedings from a blockbuster Havana-based 1992 conference on the Cuban missile crisis of 1963, plus interpretive commentary by a team of down-to-earth scholars led by Brown University's Blight and also including Allyn (Harvard Law School) and Welch (University of Toronto; coauthor with Blight of On the Brink, 1989). The conference--fifth in a series that began in 1987--featured an all-star cast (including, for the first time, representatives from the erstwhile USSR) who played leading roles in the dramatic Kennedy/Khrushchev confrontation that brought the world far closer to nuclear holocaust than had previously been imagined. Among those on hand were Fidel Castro; Ray Cline (sometime supervisor of the CIA's photographic intelligence center); General Anatoly Gribkov (operational director of the USSR's 1962 placement of IRBMs in Cuba); Robert McNamara; Arthur Schlesinger; and Oleg Troyanovsky (a US-educated diplomat who counseled the Politburo on American intentions). With high-caliber participants freely speaking their minds, the four-day symposium generated both heat and light that cut through the fog of a virtual conflict. It turns out that the Kremlin's decision to deploy missiles in Cuba owed at least as much to a desire to defend the island nation against the possibility of US aggression as to the goal of redressing a perceived imbalance in the hemispheric placement of strategic weapons. Also new is the disclosure that, when Kennedy intervened, atomic warheads already had been delivered and were ready for installation. The annotated transcripts of the gathering's electric colloquies give readers a ringside seat at a consequential debate, while Blight and his fellow academics offer thoughtful analyses of the geopolitical predicaments in which Castro was entangled then--as well as now, with his onetime superpower ally having effectively ceased to exist. Oral history of a high and enlightening order.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42149-1
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993


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