9781400078912

One Minute to Midnight

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781400078912

  • ISBN10:

    1400078911

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-06-02
  • Publisher: Vintage

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Summary

Thoroughly researched and with the pacing of a thriller,One Minute to Midnightis the definitive account of history's most dangerous hours. In October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear conflict over the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Here, for the first time, we learn of Khrushchev's plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo; the activities of CIA agents inside Cuba; and the crash landing of an American F-106 jet with a live nuclear weapon on board. In this hour-by-hour chronicle of those tense days, veteranWashington Postreporter Michael Dobbs has produced the most authoritative book yet on the Cuban missile crisis. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Author Biography

Michael Dobbs was born in Belfast, Ireland, and educated at the University of York, with fellowships at Princeton and Harvard. He is a reporter for The Washington Post, where he spent much of his career as a foreign correspondent covering the collapse of communism. His Down with Big Brother: The Fall of the Soviet Empire was a runner-up for the 1997 PEN award for nonfiction. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Americansp. 3
Russiansp. 32
Cubansp. 58
"Eyeball to Eyeball"p. 84
"Till Hell Freezes Over"p. 112
Intelp. 135
Nukesp. 159
Strike Firstp. 184
Hunt for the Groznyp. 207
Shootdownp. 230
"Some Sonofabitch"p. 254
"Run Like Hell"p. 276
Cat and Mousep. 297
"Crate and Return"p. 321
Afterwordp. 343
Acknowledgments and a Note on Sourcesp. 355
Notesp. 363
Indexp. 407
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

Excerpts

Americans


Tuesday, October 16, 1962, 11:50 a.m.


The Central Intelligence Agency’s chief photo interpreter hovered over the president’s shoulder. Arthur Lundahl held a pointer in his hand, ready to reveal a secret that would bring the world to the edge of nuclear war.

The secret was buried in three black-and-white photographs pasted to briefing boards hidden in a large black case. The photographs had been shot from directly overhead, evidently from a considerable distance, with the aid of a very powerful zoom lens. On superficial inspection, the grainy images of fields, forests, and winding country roads seemed innocuous, almost bucolic. One of the fields contained tubelike objects, others oval-shaped white dots neatly lined up next to one another. John F. Kennedy would later remark that the site could be mistaken for “a football field.” After examining the photographs earlier that morning, his brother Bobby had been unable to make out anything more than “the clearing of a field for a farm or the basement of a house.”

To help the president understand the significance of the photos, Lundahl had labeled them with arrows pointing to the dots and blotches, along with captions reading “ERECTOR LAUNCHER EQUIPMENT,” “MISSILE TRAILERS,” and “TENT AREAS.” He was about to display the briefing boards when there was a commotion outside the door. A four-year-old girl burst into one of the most heavily guarded rooms in the White House.

The heads of the fourteen most powerful men in the United States swiveled to the doorway as Caroline Kennedy ran toward her father, babbling excitedly: “Daddy, daddy, they won’t let my friend in.”

The somber-looking men in dark suits were used to such intrusions. Their frowns dissolved into smiles as the president got up from his leather-upholstered seat and led his daughter back toward the door of the Cabinet Room.

“Caroline, have you been eating candy?”

No reply. The president smiled.

“Answer me. Yes, no, or maybe.”

Father and daughter disappeared for a few seconds, his arm draped around her shoulders. When Kennedy returned, his expression had again become grave. He took his place at the center of the long table beneath the presidential seal, his back to the Rose Garden. He was flanked on either side by his secretary of state and secretary of defense. Facing him across the table were his brother, his vice president, and his national security adviser. Behind them stood a small bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln, flanked by some model sailing ships. Above the fireplace to the right was the celebrated Gilbert Stuart portrait of a powdered and bewigged George Washington.

The thirty-fifth president of the United States called the meeting to order.

Kennedy seemed preternaturally calm to the other men in the room as he listened to the evidence of Kremlin duplicity. In secrecy, while insisting they would never contemplate such a thing, the Soviet leaders had installed surface-to-surface nuclear missiles on Cuba, less than a hundred miles from American shores. According to the CIA, the missiles had a range of 1,174 miles and were capable of hitting much of the eastern seaboard. Once armed and ready to fire, they could explode over Washington in thirteen minutes, turning the capital into a scorched wasteland.

Lundahl took the briefing boards out of his bag and laid them on the table. He used his pointer to direct the president’s attention to a canvas-covered missile trailer next to a launcher erector. Seven more missile trailers were parked in a nearby field.

“How do you know this is a medium-range ballistic missile?” asked the president. His voice was clipped and tense, betraying a boiling anger beneath the calm.

“The length, sir.”

“The what? The length?&#

Excerpted from One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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