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One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War [Paperback]

Michael Dobbs
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 April 2009

October 27, 1962, a day dubbed Black Saturday in the Kennedy White House. The Cuban missile crisis is at its height, and the world is drawing ever closer to nuclear apocalypse.

As the opposing Cold War leaders, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, mobilize their forces to fight a nuclear war on land, sea and air, the world watches in terror. In Bobby Kennedy's words, 'There was a feeling that the noose was tightening on all of us, on Americans, on mankind, and that the bridges to escape were crumbling.'

In One Minute to Midnight Michael Dobbs brings a fresh perspective to this crucial moment in twentieth-century history. Using a wealth of untapped archival material, he tells both the human and the political story of Black Saturday, taking the reader into the White House, the Kremlin and along the entire Cold War battlefront.

Dobbs's thrilling narrative features a cast of characters - including Soviet veterans never before interviewed by a western writer - with unique stories to tell, witnesses to one of the greatest mobilizations of men and equipment since the Second World War.

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One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War + Thirteen Days [DVD] [2001]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099492458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099492450
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Mesmerising stuff ... a riveting hour-by-hour account of one day that could have changed the history of humanity" (Joanna Bourke The Times)

"[Dobbs] has made extensive use of untapped archive material to reveal the secrets of the cloak-and-dagger operations behind the nuclear stand-off in the Caribbean... Excellent" (John Crossland Daily Mail)

"A book with sobering new information . . . as well as contemporary relevance . . . filled with insights that will change the views of experts" (Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the UN New York Times Book Review)

"Dobb's hour-by-hour overview is a worthy study of this much mythologised fortnight . . . Dobb's chronological approach not only provides a natural sense of pace, but also allows him to illustrate the near-fatal time lag in communication between the two sides" (Time Out)

"In this compelling - and thrilling - new study by Michael Dobbs, there is much new material that forces us to revise our assumptions about the crisis... This is the first book about the crisis to tell the story of the tactical cruise missiles and the first to contain interviews with Soviet veterans. Dobbs adopts a cinematic style, cross-cutting between locations and time zones, and perfectly judges the acceleration of pace in the second half of the book which concentrates on Black Sunday. Unlike previous writers, Dobbs gives due prominence to the subplots, any one of which might have sparked mass destruction" (Christopher Silvester Daily Express)

Book Description

Michael Dobbs recreates the 'most dangerous moment in human history' and brings the Cuban missile crisis to a new generation.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Michael Dobbs' account of the Cuban Missile Crisis (he's not to be confused with the British Michael Dobbs of Francis Urquhart/House of Cards fame) must surely qualify as a definitive account, at least for this generation. Despite the gallons of ink spilled over those fateful 13 days, this recent book (out in 2008) has much to offer and revise. In fact, it makes recent history a thrilling read, despite the pervasive detail, evident research and deep complexity of the events.

Dobbs had unprecedented access to archives and key participants from both the US and Russia - and has even managed to investigate some of the sites and accounts from the Cuban perspective. As a result, he's been able to 'triangulate' every detail, synchronising accounts from each of the perspectives of Moscow, Havana and Washington. He offers a day by day account of the days leading up to what became known as Black Saturday (Saturday 27th October 1962), and then an hour by hour account of the day itself. One of the book's big themes is the fragility of the peace, even <em>after</em> the two leaders had themselves become determined to find a peaceful solution.
"The question the world confronted during what came to be known as the Cuban missile crisis was who controlled history: the men in suits, the men with beards, the men in uniform, or nobody at all? In this drama, Kennedy ended up on the same side as his ideological nemesis, Nikita Khrushchev. Neither man wanted war. They both felt an obligation to future generations to rein in the dark, destructive demons they themselves had helped to unleash.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven and padded account for the casual reader 25 Sep 2013
By Paul T Horgan VINE VOICE
I did approach this book with anticipation. I have been performing private research into the crisis and it was good for me to have a single volume account as a base-line.

Unfortunately this book sells itself on sensational revelations and a dramatic day-to-day account but falls short.

The Cuban Missile crisis was not something that started when the USA discovered the SS-4 sites on 14 October after a U-2 overflight. Still less did it start with JFK's televised announcement on 22 October. This is like stating that the Second World War started merely on 1 September 1939, when the origins are as important as the war itself. This is even more important in the First World War in 1914. And it is this part that is neglected in this book. The seeds of the crisis were sown months, if not years previously. This is not covered properly. Nor is the fact that people in the US were well aware for weeks beforehand that the Soviets were sending soldiers to Cuba and that plans had started to be drawn up.

The fact that the US government had been running a sustained campaign of sabotage under the CIA's Operation Mongoose is touched on only in detail with the actions that take place during the crisis itself. However the operation, which had been running for over a year, probably informed Castro's alignment with the USSR. The stationing of missiles had a lot to do with the serious inferiority of the USSR's intercontinental striking power, but this became apparent almost exactly one year previously when the US Government revealed the sheer size and reach of its nuclear arsenal for the first time. This is not really covered in detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nice book 12 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good Quality item and a great read, some information there i hadnt come across before, found this both suprising and informative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An easy read about a terible time in history; 16 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is a chronological coverage of the crisis, you get a sense of the pressures n the main actors and just how close a thing it was.

It is an enjoyable read, suitable for a long flight.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Frighteningly revealing 7 Oct 2013
By paul
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
History is overturned by this book, incompetence, ignorance, flawed decision making, equipment failure, crisis management or crisis causing. So much has been revealed as to how close we were to all out nuclear destruction. The style is journalistic and the flow of events is interrupted by filling in historical details, but the message is frightening.
A must read for anyone interested in modern political history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gives great insight into the Cuban missile crisis 27 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great for anyone who wants to know the tiny details of the Cuban missile crisis. It goes into great depth and is really interesting!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
First, this is NOT written by the Michael Dobbs who wrote 'House of Cards' etc.

It IS written by the Belfast-born Washington Post reporter, noted for his non-fiction work on the Soviet Union as well as his war reporting from the Former Yugoslavia.

The `headline' story of the events of October are known to many and has at least in the West been `mythicised' into a story of President Kennedy's blockade standing firm and the Soviet ships backing away.

Dobbs has taken full advantage of the latest disclosures and has created a book that adds facts, depth and dimension to this shorthand version. He compares and contrasts events at specific times in Cuba, Washington and Moscow as well as Soviet SAM sites and the cockpits of American aircraft. In doing this is, he has produced a factual book with (at times) the pace of a thriller, sketching many characters - famous and otherwise - and their own stories in the enfolding drama.

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred when I was a very small child and in unfolded mainly in places thousands of miles away. This book not only has kept my interest but has sparked me to read more about this world event.
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