October 27, 1962, a day dubbed Black Saturday in the Kennedy White House. The Cuban missile crisis is at its height, and the world is drawing ever closer to nuclear apocalypse.
As the opposing Cold War leaders, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, mobilize their forces to fight a nuclear war on land, sea and air, the world watches in terror. In Bobby Kennedy's words, 'There was a feeling that the noose was tightening on all of us, on Americans, on mankind, and that the bridges to escape were crumbling.'
In One Minute to Midnight Michael Dobbs brings a fresh perspective to this crucial moment in twentieth-century history. Using a wealth of untapped archival material, he tells both the human and the political story of Black Saturday, taking the reader into the White House, the Kremlin and along the entire Cold War battlefront.
Dobbs's thrilling narrative features a cast of characters - including Soviet veterans never before interviewed by a western writer - with unique stories to tell, witnesses to one of the greatest mobilizations of men and equipment since the Second World War.
Washington Post reporter Dobbs (Saboteurs) is a master at telling stories as they unfold and from a variety of perspectives. In this re-examination of the 1963 Bay of Pigs face-off between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., Dobbs combines visits to Cuba, discussions with Russian participants and fingertip command of archival and printed U.S. sources to describe a wild ride that contrary to the myth of Kennedy's steel-nerved crisis management was shaped by improvisation, guesswork and blind luck. Dobbs's protagonists act not out of malevolence, incompetence or machismo. Kennedy, Khrushchev and their advisers emerge as men desperately seeking a handle on a situation no one wanted and no one could resolve. In a densely packed, fast-paced, suspenseful narrative, Dobbs presents the crisis from its early stages through the decision to blockade Cuba and Kennedy's ordering of DEFCON 2, the last step before an attack, to the final resolution on October 27 and 28. The work's climax is a detailed reconstruction of the dry-mouthed, sweaty-armpits environment of those final hours before both sides backed down. From first to last, this sustains Dobbs's case that "crisis management" is a contradiction in terms.