Thirteen Days

A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Narrated by: Kurt Elftmann
Length: 4 hrs and 24 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.3 out of 5 stars (174 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In October 1962, when the United States confronted the Soviet Union over its installation of missiles in Cuba, few people shared the behind-the-scenes story as it is told here by the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy. In this unique account, he describes the hour-by-hour negotiations, with particular attention to the actions and views of his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

In a foreword to this edition, the distinguished historian and Kennedy adviser Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., discusses the book's enduring importance and the significance of new information about the crisis that has come to light from the former Soviet Union.

©1971, 1969 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., Copyright 1968 by McCall Corporation (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A minor classic in its laconic, spare, compelling evocation by a participant of the shifting moods and maneuvers of the most dangerous moment in human history." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.)

What listeners say about Thirteen Days

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Poor narration

What didn’t you like about Kurt Elftmann’s performance?

Monotone and devoid of emotion. About as exciting if he had been reading stock prices. Hard to stay focused on the story because narration was so boring.

Any additional comments?

I loved the movie but will have to read the printed book to fairly judge this one.

2 people found this helpful

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An good inside look

I saw the film adaptation long before I read the book. The book is interesting but I'm suspicious to a degree since "Bobbie" is a central character, and the main character is his own brother. However, given whatever flaws it may have based on those relationships, it is still an important story of one of the most frightening events of the 20th Century. RFK's original work is quite brief, but the supplementary notes are as interesting and as important as the main work. It's is interesting to note the impact of a single book, Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August had on the President, and the results that had for the outcome of the crisis. The whole approach used by the President is useful in ways far beyond nuclear diplomacy.

1 person found this helpful

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Nearly Armageddon

The Late Robert F. Kennedy's memoirs about the 13 days in October 1962 in my opinion should be introduced to our High Schools across America. You will, by listening to this excellent audio book come to the conclusion just how close the real Armageddon crossed the worlds path in just 13 days. During this time President John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby faced a challenge that no man or men in history have ever faced. The two greatest powers on the planet, with the capability to destroy all life as we know it debated between their leaders, both in America & the USSR on the fate of the Cuban people and the rest of the world during this "Cuban Missile Crisis". Kurt Elftmann does an excellent job expressing the emotions of both leaders. What I appreciated allot about this book was it's references to the actual letters between President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev and their direct correspondence during the 13 days. All this knowledge of course has been out of reach from the general public or forgotten as in the past. Americans who were either children or not even born during this stressful time can begin to appreciate the historical challenges and how the military pushed for an all out invasion of Cuba which the President choose not to do. His choice, and only one man could make the final decision, the President chose instead a Naval Blockade at a perimeter of 500 miles around Cuba preventing Soviet ships from delivering addition missiles and Bombers. The CIA was directly involved and U2 reconnaissance flights over Cuba occurred throughout the 13 days, One U2 was shot down and the pilot was killed. The CIA estimated 10,000 soviet troops in Cuba. In reality over 43,000 troop's and support personnel were on the island. The CIA estimated incorrectly the amount of missiles being readied for launch down to the very last day. They never confirmed that those 32 missiles were actually nuclear and could easily hit any city both in the North and South Americas within 1000 miles or more. I also recommend further reading of the Audible book Red November by W. Craig Reed which expands on the submarine actions not discussed in 13 days that truly bring to fact that the Soviet Navy's B-59, B-4, B-36 & B-130 Foxtrot diesel-electric powered submarines equipped with a T-5 Nuclear torpedo's called the "Special Weapon", lay in wait for launch at our major Eastern Cities in the bottom of the ocean. Boston was only 1,500 miles away and Mexico City just over 1,300 miles. The power of this "Special Weapon would be equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb dropped on August 6th 1945 on Japan. The name forgotten to history, Vasili Arkhipov indeed saved the planet. One false move by either side and this review would not have been possible. I rate this 5 stars all the way as I also did with Red November!

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Horrible Narration Makes It Hard to Listen To

Generally, I try to separate the substance of a book from the narration of the audiobook when I review a book on here. With this book it becomes almost impossible to do so. I find the subject matter extremely interesting. I find the brilliance and contradictions of Jack & Bobby Kennedy. While I’ve listened to many books on the Kennedy brothers, I have wanted to listen to Bobby’s book on the Cuban Missile Crisis for a long time. Yet, no matter how hard I tried I found it impossible to listen to because of the narrator. Kurt Elftmann, the narrator of this book drones on in a nasal monotone. There is almost no inflection in his reading of the book, despite the subject matter dealing with the thirteen intense days surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. While it’s true it’s not a mystery novel or something that requires overly dramatic narration or the ability to do different voices, the subject matter deserves better treatment than it is given. The book is read with all the intensity of someone reading off their grocery list. With over 800 titles in my audible library, this is the first where I felt compelled to post a review about the terrible narration and how it makes the book near impossible to listen to.

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Needs a new narrator update

Excellent memoir wrecked by terrible narration. Alexa has more vocal inflection and tone. Please update

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Excellent

RFK’s personal account is fast-paced and sobering. His style is very enjoyable and doesn’t bog down. I do wish his account was longer, it was so interesting. The afterword was too long-winded, taking a full two hours of the listening time.

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an insight into a point in history

this is an insight intoa point of history from someone who was in the room where it happened. history as it happened

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IF YOU LOVE HISTORY"""

Robert Kennedy Lived it. I was a young republican then, but I think JFK handled this the best way possible. In 1968, I planned to vote for RFK , Anybody to replace LBJ. Anyway, If you like history I believe you will enjoy this book.

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Historical Terror

Historical Terror at a time when there was so much unknown. This gives a good look at what else was going on from a Soviet perspective. I didn't know we had missiles right outside their back door. No wonder they wanted to place them outside our back door. Once again, the United States won the gamble.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great story, terrible narrator

Fascinating read that sheds insight into an important event in our history. To be honest, the book is a bit dry, but the material is still interesting. Also makes me wonder how much of this is a biased summary, given that JFK's brother wrote the book. All that aside, worthwhile read. Sort of makes you look at global politics a little differently.