Monday, 15 February 2010

The Brink

Fascinating. After reading One Minute to Midnight, also on the Cuban Missile Crisis, I came to the conclusion that it was interesting to read about but that the particular book I started with was a very poor account. I'm about ninety per cent sure that this one was by a guy called David Detzer, but again I took the book back to the library without making a note of who wrote it--that name is from Amazon and as it doesn't have a picture of the book I can't guarantee it's actually the right one. At any rate, this was a far more complete work and gave some interesting insights that were lacking from One Minute to Midnight. For example, he suggested that there might not have been nuclear warheads in the Cuban missiles, points out that the missiles involved were pretty pathetic specimens at any rate with nothing like the range the US government claimed, and were hopelessly inaccurate. One is left seeing the whole crisis as mere posturing on the part of Kennedy, and I honestly wonder whether there was any point making such a fuss over it. Figures from Jane's and the US government were quoted in terms of missile range, the ones from Jane's were significantly lower than the ones from the US government, both, apparently, were exaggerated. Of course, it was published while the Cold War was still going on, so you can't be certain that the author's figures are correct, but it certainly gives scope for speculation. Incidents that One Minute to Midnight made out were unique to that account which allegedly took in little known incidents were included in this book too, including the U2 flight that got lost over the USSR etc. So if you're looking for a good history of the crisis, with information on both sides (somewhat optimistic over Cuba in my opinion, but there is certainly an attempt at even-handedness) and an explanation of what the missiles actually were and what other missiles were around and a fairly rounded narrative, I have to recommend this one. It's just a case of whether you can actually find it...

No comments: