Here, for the first time, are gripping accounts of Khrushchev's plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo; the accidental overflight of the Soviet Union by an American spy plane; the movement of Soviet nuclear warheads around Cuba during the tensest days of the crisis; the activities of CIA agents inside Cuba; and the crash landing of an American F-106 jet with a live nuclear weapon on board.
Dobbs takes us inside the White House and the Kremlin as Kennedy and Khrushchev agonize over the possibility of war. He shows how these two leaders recognized the terrifying realities of the nuclear age while Castro - never swayed by conventional political considerations - demonstrated the messianic ambition of a man selected by history for a unique mission. Dobbs brings us onto the decks of American ships patrolling Cuba; inside sweltering Soviet submarines and missile units as they ready their warheads; and onto the streets of Miami, where anti-Castro exiles plot the dictator's overthrow.
©2008 Michael Dobbs; (P)2008 Books on Tape
"One Minute to Midnight is nothing less than a tour de force, a dramatic, nail-biting page-turner that is also an important work of scholarship. Michael Dobbs combines the skills of an experienced investigative journalist, a talented writer, and an intelligent historical analyst. His research is stunning. No other history of the Cuban missile crisis matches this achievement." (Martin Sherwin, co-author of American Prometheus)
In October 1962, my Troop Carrier Air Force Reserve Squadron at the Air Force Reserve section (now gone) of O'Hare Field was activated because of the "Cuban Crisis." During the day my day job was to "play soldier" (the Army equivalent of a Clerk/Typist) and at night I would drive to my home on Chicago's south side. No one worried about nuclear incineration, and in due course we were deactivated and returned to our civilian careers. It is truly said that ignorance is bliss. If I had know then what I know now, after reading One Minute to Midnight, I don't think I would have slept as soundly as I did. That's why I listened to this book, and why I recommend it. Somewhat more detailed than necessary, it discusses some facts never before disclosed, and points out that the Soviets kept secret for over 40 years that they had deployed tactical nukes in Cuba, in addition to Intercontinental Missiles that targeted, among many other U.S. cities, Washington and New York! I simply never realized how close we came to Armaggedon. Worth reading if you lived through it, and for historical purposes if you didn't, but it brings home the fact that Kennedy and Khrushchev were both level-headed leaders that understood the horrors of war and were therefore able to avoid it, that Castro was willing to plunge the world into nuclear holocaust for the sake of his revolution, and that the "terrorist world" in which we now live does not seem to have the same rational inhibitions to prevent it should a similar confrontation again arise. Well worth your time, especially if your a student of 20th century American history.
The book and the narration are top notch. You stay riveted as you listen, or at least I did. I listen to a lot of audio books and this is in the top tier...highly recommended. It has important implications to learn from, many newly presented for the first time, according to the author.
Even if you watched "13 Days" (I did, and liked it), listen to this book. It has accurate, well researched account of events, some less known facts and very little idle speculation.
The historical facts are presented well, with just enough details to keep the listener interested, and the narration is superb.
"I remember those dreadful days in October 1962. And I thought I knew what went on during that standoff. But Michael Dobbs' book opened my eyes to the complexities and challenges of the Nuclear Showdown.
I especially enjoyed reading the perspective from Castro's and Krushchev's positions. When I finished the book I realised that my memory and understanding of those events where mainly shaped by the American version, which was far from complete."
This was an excellent read, and very well delivered by Bob Walter. Highly recommended!
It ranks high on my list.
No characters. These are all historical figures. Real people documented in history.
Very good for history buffs. The world does not comprehend how close we came to a nuclear war in the 1960's.
Ponderous, painful, poorly written, poorly read. This work simply fails to find the balance between the big picture and individual experience that marks good history. The threads of the story were not well interwoven and I found myself losing interest in almost everything as a result. It is hard to believe, but this book manages to make the Cuban Missile Crisis seem tedious and unimportant, which it certainly was not. Huge disappointment.
"Tense and Gripping"
A work of history that engages you like a classic cold war thriller - yet it's true. This book shows how a full-scale nuclear exchange could have been triggered by the actions of relatively low level military officers once control passed from the hands of the leaders into those faced with making split second choices under fire. Terrifying given the current situation with north Korea!
"Everything an audiobook should be"
This audiobook makes absorbing history effortless. Like listening to a quality thriller, it draws you in and makes you feel like an insider to the events while maintaining the integrity of an authoritative piece of research. Highly recommended.
At times, the juxtaposition of accounts from the American and Soviet sides makes this a very dramatic listen.
For a story which is already well-known, this is a brilliantly dramatic, enthralling telling of the wider history surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis, combining the American, Cuban and Soviet sides of the tale. Well worth downloading.
"Armageddon averted by pure dumb luck?"
I haven't seen the print version. Audio editions are better for me to absorb, but worse to refer back to. It annoys me when names are wrongly pronounced: that's not a problem for a print edition.
I think of W S Churchill writing on the Second World War. Both authors are accomplished historians and draw on a vast store of facts, yet offer some fascinating anecdotes amusingly told. Both sum-up brilliantly and produce original, compelling analyses of the causes and results of their historical topic.
The narrator pronounces Spanish names and quotations well, but Russian less confidently. His voice is pleasing and avoids sounding monotonous, which would be easy with so much detail to recount.
In Dobbs's conclusions he quotes Jackie Kennedy writing personally to Nikita Kruschev after JFK's assassination: "You and he were adversaries, but you were allied in the determination that the world should not be blown up. The danger that troubled my husband was that the war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones." Apart from being a touching admission to a national enemy by a grieving widow, this gets to the heart of the matter. Together with the JFK quote "There's always some son-of-a-bitch that doesn't get the word!" it sums up the book's subject matter and findings.
In 1962 the two superpowers juggled with the future of humanity like Laurel and Hardy trying to negotiate a flight of steps with a grand piano. Secretary of State Dean Acheson later claimed nuclear war was averted "by pure dumb luck". But for all their miscalculations and personal failings, let's be grateful it was JFK and NK who led their respective countries and not any of their gung-ho advisors.
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