"A portrait of the JFK White House after the Cuban Missile Crisis as it really was…human and revealing." —Evan Thomas
Popular history marks October 28, 1962, as the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet as JFK’s secretly recorded White House tapes reveal, the aftermath of the crisis was a political and diplomatic minefield. The president had to push hard to get Khrushchev to remove Soviet weaponry from Cuba without reigniting the volatile situation, while also tackling midterm elections and press controversy. With a new preface that highlights recently declassified information, historian David G. Coleman puts readers in the Oval Office during the turning point of Kennedy’s presidency and the watershed of the Cold War.
Coleman uses a neglected source as the basis for an unusual perspective on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the narrative beginning after Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba. Director of the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program, Coleman uses secret White House tapes, authorized by President Kennedy, to show that the crisis didn't end there. A closely kept secret, the tapes offer "unguarded, unrehearsed" testimony to the complex problems that remained as the missiles of October ostensibly stood down. Plugging leaks had high priority in the crisis's aftermath. in good part to shore up the administration's image of effectiveness. Kennedy's tacit acceptance of a nonnuclear Soviet military presence reflected his conviction that Khrushchev's miscalculations in Cuba could in turn lessen the tension over another cold war flashpoint, West Berlin if America's administration spoke little, acted moderately, and showed a united front. That required a level of news management that by February 1963 led to political and media criticism sufficiently intense to inspire transparency. The decision to publicize intelligence information on the Cuban situation defused the immediate issue. It also, Coleman asserts, might have confirmed the missile crisis as "a promising pivot point" had Kennedy's presidency not been truncated in Dallas. 20 photos.