The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis by David G Coleman
|The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis by David G Coleman|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The subject lacks the drama of the Crisis itself, or - indeed - the assassination, but the book reveals a great deal about the Kennedy administration.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: November 2013|
|Publisher: W W Norton|
|External links: Author's website|
The commonly-held view of history would have us believe that the Cuban Missile Crisis began in mid-October 1962 and concluded on 28 October, with the world heaving a collective sigh of relief and moving on to think of other things. The truth is, of course, rather different and the crisis rumbled on for weeks and months to come, occasionally almost bubbling to the boil again as Kennedy and Krushchev fenced with each other. Historian David G Coleman has used the secret White House recordings to take us into the Oval Office and listen to what really went on.
Books about the crisis itself are readily available and there are any number about JFK's assassination. Both events are full of drama and the assassination still has that feeling of not being fully explained, fifty years after the event and the books make exciting reading. By its very nature The Fourteenth Day is less obviously exciting as it deals with the toing and froing of negotiations - both internally and internationally - and could easily have turned into a dry and unrewarding read.
The tapes bring Kennedy to life as we hear him speak rather than make speeches. He had a tendency for his thoughts to drift off into nothingness, but what is clear is that he had the strength to stand up to his military commanders who would have been only too willing to take a more vigorous approach to the problem. He comes through as a wily but not obvious negotiator. What's also obvious is that whilst the crisis was publicly ongoing the administration was way out in some of its estimates of the Russian strength in terms of men and missiles on Cuba and that what happened was less sure-footed than the recollections of some of those involved would have us believe.
It's a thought-provoking book too. I was forced to confront the way that violence escalates - and not necessarily in the area where it began. An attack on Cuba could well have meant that Krushchev would have felt that the gloves were off with regard to West Berlin - about which he was obsessed. Most interesting for me was the extent to which an administration can be honest with the country in a time of crisis. There's no way of giving your own citizens information without also gifting it to the adversary - and then there's the aftermath of dealing with people who are outraged because they feel that they've been lied to - and cannot trust the administration.
It's probably not the first book you would - or should - read about the Kennedy administration but it's enlightening and gives a more complete picture of what was happening than many others.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
If you'd like to read more about the Cuban Missile Crisis then we can recommend One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Krushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War by Michael Dobbs.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis by David G Coleman at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis by David G Coleman at Amazon.com.
The Fourteenth Day: JFK and the Aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis by David G Coleman is in the Top Ten Books on President John F Kennedy.
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