GENERAL POST-WORLD WAR II

1960s

Cuban Missile Crisis

N - S

Nash, Philip. The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Jupiters, 1957-1963. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Clark comment: There is negligible intelligence content in this work, but the author's study of the Jupiter IRBMs in Turkey and Italy and their eventual withdrawal in exchange for the removal of the Soviet SS4s from Cuba is a piece of the Missile Crisis puzzle that is usually treated almost as a footnote. As Rosenberg, History 26.3, notes, this is "an excellent and very well written account" based on research that "is thorough and up to date."

Nathan, James A., ed. The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited. New York: St. Martin's, 1992. 1993. [pb]

Szulc, WPNWE, 23-29 Nov. 1992, finds that the "elegant and insightful essays ... in the Nathan compendium throw significant new light on Kennedy's decision-making ... and on the reasons he proceeded as he did." Bernstein's essay, "Reconsidering the Missile Crisis," is "brilliant."

Paterson, Thomas G. "Commentary: The Defense-of-Cuba Theme and the Missile Crisis." Diplomatic History 14, no. 2 (1990): 249-256.

Polmar, Norman, and John D. Gresham. DEFCON 2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War during the Cuban Missile Crisis. New York: Wiley 2006.

Brooks, NIPQ 22.2 (Apr. 2006), finds that this work "provides significantly more detail" on the Cuban Missile Crisis "than any existing books on the subject." House, Military Review (Mar.-Apr. 2007), comments that despite being "well researched," this study has "a few omissions [that] result in an incomplete picture of events.... Overall, however, DEFCON-2 is a refreshing and informative study of a major strategic crisis in the history of the cold war. As such, it is instructive about many aspects of intelligence, government, and national security."

For Brenner, Proceedings 132.10 (Oct. 2006), the authors' evidence "points to the conclusion that we avoided a calamity in 1962 by luck." The book provides "a detailed military analysis of the missile crisis in the context of the Cold War." It also offers "sophisticated political analyses, which tend to avoid simplistic characterizations." However, there are "several small errors which taken together mar" the book's reliability.

Pope, Ronald R., ed. Soviet Views on the Cuban Missile Crisis: Myth and Reality in Foreign Policy Analysis. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1982.

This was put together before there was a substantial stream of Russian sources available. It is useful primarily as a window into how the Soviet role in the crisis was perceived by some in the West prior to glasnost.

Powers, Thomas. "And After We've Struck Cuba?" London Review of Books, 13 Nov. 1997. Chapter 10 in Intelligence Wars: American Secret History from Hitler to Al-Qaeda, 171-184. Rev. & exp. ed. New York: New York Review of Books, 2004.

Looking at the Cuban Missile Crisis through May and Zelikow, eds. The Kennedy Tapes (1997), and Fursenko and Naftali, "One Hell of a Gamble," Powers concludes that the tapes shows a "salutary example of intelligent statesmanship" on the part of President Kennedy.

Reed, William, and W. Craig Reed. "Thirteen Days: The Real Story." Troika Magazine [on-line]. http://www.troikamagazine.com/network/13days.html. [not available on 1/26/08]

This work argues that NSA's "Boresight" program was critical to U.S. strategy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The "Boresight" program had developed the capability to locate submerged Soviet submarines by triangulating on recordings of their burst transmissions. This knowledge gave the United States confidence that it could stand firm during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Renshon, Jonathan. "Mirrowing Risk: The Cuban Missile Estimation." Intelligence and National Security 24, no. 3 (Jun. 2009): 315-338.

"The critical failure was not in detecting what the Soviet Union was actually doing, but in the biased and incorrect assessments of what they were likely to do. The failure was in the incorrect assessment that the Soviets would not deploy strategic weapons in Cuba because they would not accept the 'high risk' of such a deployment." (Emphasis in original)

Rumpelmayer, J.J. "The Missiles in Cuba." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 4 (Fall 1964): 87-92.

Scali, John. "I Was the Secret Go-Between in the Cuban Crisis." Family Weekly, 25 Oct. 1964, 4-5, 12-14.

Schmitt, Eric. "C.I.A. Holds Talks on '62 Cuban Crisis." New York Times, 20 Oct. 1992, A4 (N).

Scott, Len V.

1. "Espionage and the Cold War: Oleg Penkovsky and the Cuban Missile Crisis." Intelligence and National Security 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1999): 23-47.

"The significance of Penkovsky's intelligence in the Cuban missile crisis ... has been sensationalised and distorted.... This conclusion is not to 'debunk' Penkovsky or to denigrate his espionage. It is to emphasise that the Cuban missile crisis is not a useful way of adjudicating on the importance of Penkovsky's espionage and that Penkovsky's espionage is not a fruitful way of examining the Cuban missile crisis."

2. Macmillan, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis: Political, Military and Intelligence Aspects. London: Macmillan, 1999. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Robarge, I&NS 15.4, believes that the author "provides balance to overstated judgments of the contribution of Oleg Penkovsky.... Scott also shows the immense impact that photographic intelligence had on policymakers when overhead reconnaisance was in its infancy."

3. and Steve Smith. "Lessons of October: Historians, Political Scientists, Policy-makers and the Cuban Missile Crisis." International Affairs 70 (Oct. 1994): 659-684.

Scott, William F. "The Face of Moscow in the Missile Crisis: Attaché Observations." Studies in Intelligence 37, no. 5 (1994): 105-109.

Certain aspects of the Soviet Union's crisis "management measures were witnessed by the military attachés" of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. This article provides "their worm's-eye view of the Moscow scene" during the tense period of the Missile Crisis. "Even with the benefit of hindsight, it is still difficult to point out any unusual Soviet behavior during the month of October."

Smith, Michael Douglas. "The Perils of Analysis: Revisiting Sherman Kent’s Defense of SNIE 85-3-62." Studies in Intelligence 51, no. 3 (2007): 29-32. [https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol51no3/index.html]

"The crucial lesson" to be drawn for SNIE 85-3-62 "is that simply being aware of our mental traps is not enough. To reduce the potential for analytic errors, some form of analytic structuring technique must be used to overcome cognitive traps." See Sherman Kent, "A Crucial Estimate Relived." Studies in Intelligence 8, no. 2 (Spring 1964): 1-18; and Studies in Intelligence 36, no. 5 (1992): 111-119.

Stern, Sheldon M.

1. Averting "The Final Failure": John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003.

Robarge, I&NS 20.3 (Sep. 2005), says that the author "has produced an accessible, readable story that breaks no new interpretive ground but is the best single volume on the 'Thirteen Days' episode."

2. The Week the World Stood Still: Inside the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.

Freedman, FA 84.3 (May-Jun. 2005), notes that this work is a shorter version of Averting "The Final Failure" (2003). This version focuses on "a blow-by-blow account of the crisis as revealed" in the tapes President Kennedy had made of conversations in the Oval Office. The book "is a useful addition to the vast literature on the missile crisis and on Kennedy as a crisis manager."

Return to Missile Crisis Table of Contents