Compelling revisionist history of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that puts JFK and his brother Robert in the worst possible light. Drawing on newly declassified archival sources, Thompson (A Time for War, 1991, etc.) offers a tellingly detailed, illusion-free recap of the confrontation that could have precipitated a nuclear exchange. Before getting down to business on the two-week span that climaxed on October 28th with Moscow's agreement to withdraw offensive weapons systems from Cuba, the Univ. of South Carolina professor (International Relations) provides valuable background on the geopolitical developments that led up to the chilling test of wills. His stage set, Thompson launches into a critical day-by-day narrative that reaches provocative conclusions on often ignored aspects of the emergency. Thompson argues, for example, that the image-obsessed Kennedy viewed America's problems with the Castro regime mainly as a threat to his administration's electoral and legislative prospects; the likelihood, the author suggests, is that Washington knew about Soviet missiles in Cuba (from aerial reconnaissance and on-the-ground intelligence agents) well before they became an international issue. Thompson also puts paid to any notion that JFK stood up to Khrushchev, noting, among other matters, that the President acceded to the concurrent removal of US missiles from Turkey--a concession offhandedly granted (and subsequently covered up) by his brother during back-channel negotiations with the USSR's ambassador. Nor does Thompson accord JFK much credit as a peacekeeper. In fact, he argues persuasively that, despite a pledge to the contrary, the President remained eager to invade Cuba and oust the Kremlin's puppet. A vivid, interpretive briefing on a landmark episode of the cold war.