The United States put crippling fear aside when the Soviets blinked in the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, but the fat lady hadn't sung.
We know the rest of the story with the publication of “The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis” (Norton, $25.95).
Just because Nikita Khrushchev responded to President John Kennedy's warnings and agreed to turn the ships around didn't mean he would keep his word. Then there was the matter of the weapons that had been put in Cuba before the main crisis.
Kennedy was under pressure to assure our nation that the threat was resolved. But if he gave such assurance and it turned out hollow, it was unlikely Kennedy could win a second term in 1964.
These and other problems were discussed in the Oval Office. What's noteworthy — and the material for this book — is that the deliberations were captured on secret White House tapes that are transcribed and made public. It is believed Kennedy wanted White House tapes for book material after his presidency.
Kennedy kept former President Dwight Eisenhower fully informed about the missile crisis, not wanting to be criticized by Ike. But that didn't quiet former Vice President Richard Nixon, known as the attack dog for the Republican party.
Discussions about Nixon and others add spice to the book. Kennedy's strengths, weaknesses — even his quirks — are aired.
Author David G. Coleman, chairman of the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program and University of Virginia history professor, is credited with putting readers “in the Oval Office during perhaps the most dramatic foreign policy crisis in America's history.”
Students of American history and the presidency will find much that's beneficial in these pages.
— Dennie Hall