It is almost two decades since the occurrence of the infamous Cuban missile crisis. The events that unfolded in the fall of 162 have attracted many researchers, who have focused on the analysis of how Cuba, a small island nation, became the focal point of the Cold War. One of the most researched and written about events in the Cold War is the Cuban missile crisis. Prominent researchers have taken this course to give the political view and possible consequences of this infamous event. Various authors and experts have compiled extensive amounts of information from a number of different written sources and interviews. One among them is Michael Dobbs, who has described the events that unfolded in his book entitled One Minute to Midnight.
In One Minute to Midnight, Dobbs gives an in-depth narrative of the Cuban missile crisis. His work is supported by extensive research into American, Soviet and Cuban sources. Dobbs has been able to document a day by day account of one of the world’s most dangerous historic events because he spent most part of his life in Europe as a foreign correspondent covering the Soviet Union. Owing to its far-fetched and credible information, One Minute to Midnight is an outstanding source for anyone who is seeking to acquire knowledge about the Cuban missile crisis.
Dobbs goal was to help a new generation of readers recall the archetypal Cold War crisis by creating a narrative of the historic event. The efforts spent to complete this task are not in vain-Dobbs spent more than two years searching through US, Cuban and Soviet sources. He was therefore been able to create an in-depth narrative about the October 1962 event. The hour-by-hour narration of the events makes the story captivating and engaging; it helps the reader to understand the issues well in each of the plot lines.
The major events within the crisis, such as the extensive meetings at the White House and the discovery of the missiles by the CIA are covered in detail. In addition, Dobbs highlights some of the ostensibly minor and unrelated events that could have had a radical impact on the events in Cuba. These included a secret CIA sabotage mission of the a Cuban copper mine, which was planned prior to the missile crisis but was coincidentally conducted during the same period of the missile crisis and the intrusion of Soviet air space by a wayward U-2 spy plane. It is also clear that Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro were not in control of the situations; and that the events could have resulted in catastrophic results.
One Minute to Midnight begins with the events that unfolded on October 16th,when Kennedy gets briefings from CIA officials about the installation of the surface-to-surface missile in the hills of Cuba, 90 miles off the Florida coast. This news set off a bustle of meetings within the White House in a bid to get a clear understanding of the possible threat in Cuba. From this point onward, the story revolves between the Kremlin the White House and Cuba. Each new section is marked clearly with the date, day and time with respect to places-Washington, Hanava and Moscow, the cities where the events take place. This helps the reader to see the story not as a single narrative, but rather as three separate plots that are all winding towards the same point. On the contrary, other works like David Manker Abshire’s Tragedies of The Modern Presidency and Robert Kennedy’s Thirteen Days give the issues about the crisis as a single narrative, which focus on specific aspects of the crisis.
Dobbs, in simplicity and liberal opinion, narrates the events that could have led to significant hot wars if had they have been pacified. One of these events the occurred on the “Black Saturday”-October 27th, where U-2 spy plane was shot down in Cuba allegedly by the Soviet forces when its pilot became disoriented and flown into Soviet airspace. Although such event was precipitous, Dobbs wades through other events that eased the possibility of hot war between the two protagonists (the Soviet Union and the United States). One Minute to Midnight casts light on the tools that leads should use to solve issues that cause strains in regard to international relations. The tension along the naval blockade eased because of diplomatic solutions. These included dismantling of missile sites in Cuba by the Soviet and removal of missiles in Italy and Turkey by the United States.
In conclusion, One Minute to Midnight is an exceptionally mesmerizing account of how close the US came to a nuclear war. Contrary to many of the other studies of the Cuban missile crisis, Dobbs distances himself away from critiques of the decision-making and the leadership on both sides of the governments. This creates suspense of just how close all three participants (the United States, Cuban government and the Soviet Union) came to crossing the rubicon from a cold war to a hot war. In his conclusion, Dobbs states that the real danger of war in the fall of 1962 came from the “little men”. This implies that the game of nuclear brinksmanship played between Khrushchev and Kennedy was done on a much larger chessboard than Cuba. The events during wee-period of October 1962 set into play hundreds of moving pawns who, in an age that heralded push button arsenals and computer programs, each had the ability to stir up a nuclear disaster.
Cuban missile crisis is one of the major events that are associated with the Cold War. Therefore, One Minute to Midnight is an excellent source of background information on the missile crisis. The book has number of applications, including class work where it can be used as source for teaching about the missile crisis. It provides clear understanding of the crisis and reinforces the notion that it was one of the most dangerous episodes in the history of the world. The analysis of the crisis from all three sides of the story gives non-bias account of events as they happened. Furthermore, the book has an ancillary use as a source for student research because it can be used as secondary source as well as a guide to find credible primary sources-a number of great sources are listed in an extensive notes section.
Abshire, Manker David. Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Presidency. Washington, D.C.: Praeger, 2001.
Dobbs, Michael. One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War . New York: Vintage, 2008.
Robert, Kennedy F. Thrteen Days. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1969.