Stone and Kuznick’s mordant take on this country’s history continues—here spanning the period from the beginning of the Cold War to the Cuban missile crisis.
Reworking two chapters and most of a third from the adult-directed print companion to the lead author’s 2012 documentary film, Singer creates a patchwork narrative that begins with John Hersey’s Hiroshima (1946: “the twentieth century’s most important work of journalism”) and ends with Nikita Khrushchev’s decision that “it was not worth killing hundreds of millions of people or more just to prove he was tough.” In between, the authors portray Truman as incompetent, trace Eisenhower’s passage from pacifism to unbridled militarism, and, for JFK, quote Eleanor Roosevelt’s pithy wish that he had “a little less profile and a little more courage.” Along with chronicling rising Cold War “hysteria” and the “cockamamie” schemes of Washington’s rabidly militaristic “lunatics,” they also point to the first stirrings of an anti-war movement, mock the era’s disingenuous civil defense drills, and detail some of the CIA’s various enterprises in meddling. There is much that is elided, but introductions to more than one historical moment when all-out nuclear war was just a button push away will leave readers with considerably more nuanced views of this country’s past…and present. Finished photos not seen.
Scary, sobering stuff. (timeline, source notes and lists, index) (Nonfiction. 13-16)