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Britain on the Brink: The Cold War's Most Dangerous Weekend, 27-28 October 1962 Hardcover – 20 Sep 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd (20 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848848145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848848146
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. P. Long TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Aug 2013
Format: Hardcover
Ignore the exciting action shot of a Vulcan on the front cover - if you are looking for a techno-thriller, look elsewhere. This is a fairly serious study of the Cuban Missile Crisis from a British perspective, which is a first as far as I can tell - that period of history is invariably viewed from an American perspective. While there is plenty of background on the American side of things, the focus of the book is on how Macmillan and his government reacted, their role in the crisis, and how the UK's armed forces responded.

This makes fascinating reading for any student of the Cold War in the UK - it stands alongside works such as Hennessey's "The Secret State" in that respect - and is well worth reading. My reservation is that there isn't a huge amount of material in the book - it's a mere 180 pages or so, and a lot of that is given over to the US perspective. There's also quite a bit of speculation about how people must have been thinking rather than verified facts.

Oh, and to be a grammar pedant I, really must point, out the fact that the author (or editor), has no idea where to put, commas, which becomes intensely irritating after a while!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By GS on 26 Nov 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author quite correctly states in the introduction that the vast majority of material on the Cuban Missile Crisis focuses on the US, the USSR and Cuba, largely sidelining Britain, despite the fact that Britain was the third nuclear power during a nuclear crisis. This is why I bought this book, which I was interested in from an academic perspective as well as general interest. If you want a general book on the crisis, buy Raymond Garthoff's "Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis" or RFK's "Thirteen Days" (the latter to be taken with a pinch of salt, but intensely readable). Then definitely buy this book to find out how Britain fitted in.

Jim Wilson is a journalist, and this book lies somewhere in between the realm of general/popular history and something more academic. He makes use of the standard secondary sources and memoirs on the Cuban crisis (Beschloss, Fursenko and Naftali, memoirs by RFK/Khrushchev/Garthoff etc - all of which are well worth a read), using them in sections to write a general history of the crisis more accessible than some of those works can be. However, the aspects which most impressed me were his use of primary sources (listed in endnotes not the bibliography), many of which were previously unknown and provide for an interesting discussion on Britain's role, focusing on political developments, diplomatic ties with the US, espionage and military preparedness. Consequently, I would suggest there is something of interest there from a more academic perspective, despite initial presumptions. Overall, I think it is a good read and well worth spending the RRP on (even better with a few pounds off). There aren't many books solely on Britain during the Cuban Missile Crisis. L. V.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By kingcon on 18 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This must be the most terrifying book I've ever read. I'd got no idea that Britiain had been put in such a dreadful position. Although we know there is a thankfully happy ending, it now transpires that it was more of a case of luck than judgement.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Williams on 20 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was well written but I found it to be slow going in places.
I would still recommend it to others so they may understand how close we got to MADness, (Mutually Assured Destruction), as I may not be here now if a few men didn't see reason!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By geoff. beardsley on 8 April 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
interesting take on history, maybe we should have been more business like with the Americans, like traded our war loans for the U.S.A Air Bases in the U.K.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Heywood on 12 Dec 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The US view of the Crisis has been done many times - Thirteen Days is a good start for someone interested. This view from the European side of the pond is nicely complentary.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Woolley on 17 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think the realisation for me was that I would not have lived as I was born almost a year after the crisis and that if any thing had survived it would be a completely different word to that we live in now thank goodness Khrushchev backed down how anyone could think about winning a nuclear war is insane anyway there would have definitely been no winners.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By steveo on 5 Nov 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I choose this book as the cold war has always interested me, however what brought my attention to this book was that it was from a British angle. The book builds up then tension of the entire crisis and makes you think that there really would have been nothing left of Britain if just one of the countries involved had made a mistake.

The book at times does at time repeat itself but if you are interested in this period of history I would recommend it.
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