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One Minute to Midnight

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One Minute to Midnight
Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War. By Michael Dobbs. (Knopf: 2008. Pg. 448.) ISBN 10: 1400043581. ISBN 13: 9781400043583.

Reviewed by Herbert White - October 20, 2008

At no time in history has mankind stood so close to the brink of Armageddon as it did in October of 1962 when the Unite States and the Soviet Union came within a hairs-breath of starting a nuclear war from which no winners would emerge. This cold-war showdown was to be dubbed the Cuban Missile Crisis in the United States, and was one of the pivotal events of the Cold War. In One Minute to Midnight, Michael Dobbs, a seasoned investigative reporter and foreign correspondent with the Washington Post, provides a hour-by-hour account of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In writing this book, Dobbs not only provides an overview of the events that transpired over the course of the crisis, but he also provides insights into the mind set of the men who almost led their respective countries into war. The men in question were John F. Kennedy, Nikita S. Khrushchev, and Fidel Castro. In this book Dobbs explores the roles that each played in fermenting the crisis, what their thoughts were about the events that were occurring, and what each did, or did not do, to help calm the crisis.

Using the latest research garnered from previously sequestered Cuban, Soviet, and American sources, Dobbs has crafted one of the most up-to-date and authoritative accounts of the Cuban Missile Crisis. More important, especially for general readers, his writing is engaging and has an almost lyrical quality about it making this book read almost like a novel. For those with a more academic interest in the subject, Dobbs has included detailed endnotes. The text also includes several maps, as well as an interesting 'note on sources' that provides a glimpse into how Dobbs carried out his research for the book.

In all, One Minute to Midnight is one of the most readable accounts of the Cuban Missile Crisis that I've come across. In addition, his visits to the countries involved and his interviews with key figures from all sides of the crisis, combined with his exhaustive research, makes this one of the most accurate accounts about the crisis that is currently available. This book is essential reading for both general readers and academics with an interest in the Cold War, the history of Nuclear Warfare, or who are simply looking for a riveting and factual book to read.

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