Customer Reviews


9 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, read it and relive the tension, 15 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
There were many aspects that made up the Cold War, but the Cuban missile crisis was probably the most nerve wracking period of the late 20th. Century. This book charts, in minute detail, the period when the world held its breath. It deals with all aspects, and charts the Soviet perspective as well, to ensure a balanced and un biased view of Kennedy and Kruschev at their finest, and includes interviews, speeches and anecdotal evidence from many of the key players. I felt that the book put the correct slant on what is often a misunderstood period in world history, which is very refreshing in the current age of sensationalism, yet it still conveyed the tension and drama that existed as the superpowers faced off once more. I can honestly say that I found it a riveting read, and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A piercing account of cold war foreign policy, 24 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: One Hell of a Gamble (Paperback)
In One Hell of a Gamble, Fursenko and Naftali cut to the heart of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the surrounding politics. Due to the end of the Cold War, they were able to obtain many first-hand accounts of the superpower rivalry from the participants themselves. Using this newfound knowledge, they craft a timeless account of the behind-the-scenes politics that formed the backbone of US-Soviet relations during the Kennedy era. A chilling perspective is offered on how close the world really came to nuclear annihilation in the fall of 1962. Congrats to Fursenko and Naftali for producing a gripping work that I highly recommend to all students of the Cold War or politics in general.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Critical non-reactions to this book are revealing., 20 Aug. 1997
By A Customer
Overlooked in every major review of this book to date is the unprecedented revelation of the Kennedy family's appreciation of the conspiracy that struck down the president. Based upon records available in the Kennedy Library, the authors conclude that William Walton, one of JFK's "closest friends," traveled to Moscow on November 29, 1963 as the personal emmissary of Robert and Jacqueline Kennedy. His secret mission: meet with Georgi Bolshakov (who, in another important revelation is identified as "the Russian end of a secret link between the White House and the Kremlin" during the Missile Crisis) and inform him that "the Kennedys believed that the president was felled by domestic opponents." "'Dallas was the ideal location for such a crime,' Walton told Bolshakov. He then explained that "the Kennedys believed that a large political conspiracy was behind (the rifles)."

Secret White House/Kremlin links? Why? Were the Kennedy brothers mistrustful of those with access to conventional
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explicitly well-documented, the real story behind it all, 6 Jan. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: One Hell of a Gamble (Paperback)
Naftali and Fursenko have done a fascinating job in this tremendously engrossing book about the prelude, climax, and aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis. A complete revelation of the personalites of the three players, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro is compelling and informative. The reader will walk away with a new found appreciation for the back-channel diplomacy utilized at the height of the crisis, Overall, just a fine scholarly work, a must for all interested in international relations.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One hell of a spotlight on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 30 Aug. 1997
By A Customer
This is one of those rare historical works where the facts are bolder than any fictional account would dare to be. It is a page turner that puts to rest some of the conventional wisdom of the Khrushchev-Kennedy cold war period. For those of us who lived through those dark days, it is a startling revelation about what really went on behind the scenes and how close we nearly came to total annihilation. For those not yet born, it is an insightful portrait of the times and a microcosm of the cold war. The book never seeks to place blame; its apparent goal is only to reveal as many facts, communications and miscommunications that forrmed the calculus for all the critical decisions of the times. It reads like a good spy novel and has the additional capacity to inform. A great read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Complete Story of Cuba and the Cold War, 13 July 1998
By A Customer
"One Hell of a Gamble" is undoubtedly the most complete story of Cuba during this crucial period of the Cold War. It is based on unparalled access to classified archives. Fursenko is an accomplished Russian historian. Naftali, who was at Yale for the past two years and will joining the faculty of UVa in the fall, is among the hottest young stars in the field of international history and intelligence studies.
A must read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-rate history and writing, 27 Oct. 1997
By A Customer
An absolutely fascinating background to an international crisis that nearly brought the planet to nuclear annihilation. This book has special relevance for anyone in the military at the time because it rounds out the picture of how those in positions of responsibility perform under pressure. From personal experience on the operational level, one witnessed a remarkable and understandable change in persons facing ultimate consequences.

As at the top, most performed well, bringing a focus to their tasks previously not thought possible while wondering what motivated Krushchev to take such a gamble. The book serves to answer some of the questions.

Interestingly enough the authors reveal that "Castro's July 26 movement was a coalition of professionals and Cubans of all political persuasions who were tired of decades of authoritarianism and official corruption," only to be replaced by a totalitarianism modeled on Soviet Russia.

From a Canadian perspective, it makes the policy towards Castro understandable, given that the man's meglomaniac quest for unquestioned adoration and economic handouts drove him to him to accept nuclear-armed missiles to achieve those goals. The madness of it and Kruschev's compliance startling reveals the weakness in political leaders to perceive the ultimate consequences of their actions.

This book reveals it on both sides of the equation. Highly recommended
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most revealing book on the Cold War published to date., 13 Jun. 1997
By A Customer
This is the full story of the closest that the Soviet Union and the US ever came to nuclear war. It is an extraordinary work because it is written by two historians, one from the former Soviet Union and the other from the US. It is based on documents that record exactly what Kennedy and Khrushchev were thinking and doing during one of the most dangerous--if not THE most dangerous--periods in human history, based on records from the the inner centers of power on both sides. Khrushchhev had, in a burst of revolutionary infatuation with the Castro revolution in Cuba, painted himself into a corner--and dragged an unwilling Soviet military and political establishment with him. Had John F. Kennedy pushed him deeper into that corner, the Soviets would have launched a nuclear war.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An authoritative account of superpower brinkmanship, 10 Mar. 1998
By A Customer
Reviewed by Nigel Clive in International Relations, Volume XIV, No 1, April 1998
Aleksandr Fursenko is Chairman of the History Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Timothy Naftali is a Fellow in International Security Studies at Yale University. Their book, based on unprecedented research into Russian archives and exhaustive unearthing of official American documents, provides the most authoritative account of superpower brinkmanship before and during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, which at its height was arguably the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. Their analysis explains how and why by 1960 the Cuban issue had come to define the superpower conflict as forcefully as the future of West Berlin or nuclear testing. Rightly, the story begins with what has often been forgotten: the popularity of Fidel Castro and his triumphant visit to America in April 1959, less than four months after over-throwing the Cuban dictator Batista. Castro's primary objective was to decrease American leverage over Cuban affairs, while the Kremlin was planning a covert operation to assist the Cuban army at the request of Fidel's brother, Raul Castro, who was a secret member of the Cuban Communist Party, a fact then unknown to Fidel. The opening of KGB and Presidium documents shows that Moscow was ready to do more for Castro than Castro felt it prudent to accept, given his domestic struggle for legitimacy. By March 1960, however, the explosion of a Belgian arms shipment in Havana harbour convinced Castro of the need for overt Soviet assistance to deter American intervention. By July 1960, Cuba had moved into the Soviet camp when Khrushchev gave a Soviet commitment to defend Cuba. From January 1961 Khrushchev identified his leadership of the communist world and the prestige of the Soviet Union with the health of Cuba and Castro.
Cuba was an immediate priority for John Kennedy in December 1960. On 12 April 1961, he assured the world that America did not intend to invade Cuba. This book gives a detailed description of the bungled Bay of Pigs operation later in April, which was largely caused by the failure to understand how essential air superiority would be to the success of the entire operation. Thereafter, Moscow took a commanding role in the Cuban security service. The choice of communism had been made by Raul in the early 1950s, by Che Guevara in 1957 and by Fidel in 1959. Now a proper police state had been set up at an eight-minute flight away from Miami. After the Bay of Pigs, the link between the Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the GRU (Military Intelligence) representative, Georgi Bolshakov, gave the Kremlin the best look inside the thinking of the Kennedy administration that any intelligence service could hope for. Notably, the KGB file on the younger Kennedy showed him to be more anti-Soviet than his brother. Cuban security intelligence, improved by the KGB, thwarted CIA and central American attempts to assassinate Fidel, Raul and Che Guevara in the summer of 1961. This prompted Castro in September 1961 to ask for increased Soviet military assistance. Moscow could see how the situation was heating up when John Kennedy made contact with Khrushchev's son-in-law and slyly compared his problem in Cuba with what Khrushchev had faced in Hungary before 1956. Kennedy wanted the problem to be solved without an American invasion, but his wish was opposed by the CIA..
In May 1962, Khrushchev discussed with his closest advisers in the Presidium the plan to put medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads in Cuba. Although seriously criticized by Alexseev, the KGB representative in Cuba, the Presidium approved the missile proposal, which Khrushchev explained had the dual objective of demonstrating to Castro that the Soviet Union would defend his revolution, while reminding Washington of Soviet power. Castro interpreted the Soviet plan as a gesture to improve the position of the socialist camp in the international arena, not as a desperate ploy to prevent an American attack. In July 1962, the Kremlin used the Bolshakov link to warn against the use of American reconnaissance planes to photograph the cargoes on the ships making their way to Cuba. Before the end of the summer of 1962, Khrushchev instructed Bolshakov to explain to Robert Kennedy that the Soviet Union was placing defensive weapons in Cuba. He now took the line that the Soviet Union and America were equally strong, and in September 1962 he authorized the sending of six atomic bombs while emphasizing his control over their use. This meant that by the end of September 1962 Khrushchev and Kennedy were much closer to military action that they had ever wanted to be.
On 2 October 1962, Kennedy ordered the armed services to start preparing for military operations against Cuba. Three days later, Bolshakov claimed to Robert Kennedy that the weapons being sent to Cuba were defensive. In fact, he was not informed of the truth. Bolshakov lived to see the end of the Cold War, but he never got over his bitterness at having been used to deceive the Kennedys. On 16 October, a U-2 spotted two nuclear missiles and six missile transports south west of Havana. But on 20 October, from a divided Executive Committee of the National Security Council (ex Comm) the blockade group carried the day against those favouring an air strike. This was reflected in Kennedy's quarantine Radio/TV address on 22 October, while Robert Kennedy assured Khrushchev via Bolshakov that America had excellent evidence of the missile deployments. So by 25 October, Khrushchev decided to dismantle the missiles, conceding that a head-to-head struggle in the nuclear era could only bring devastation to the Soviet Union. His letter of 26 October to Kennedy was a climb down. The following day Moscow was informed from Havana that Cuba expected an American air strike in the immediate future. But Khrushchev stood apart from most of the Presidium in believing that America would not attack Cuba and he did not want to threaten nuclear war when it might actually lead to one. A negotiated settlement was now within reach, as Back Channel diplomacy seemed to have succeeded.
But Castro was furious that Moscow had cut a deal without consulting Havana, as Mikoyan soon learned at the start of his visit when no common ground could be found between the two. Indeed, by 16 November, Khrushchev was prepared to pull the plug on Soviet assistance. On 20 November, Kennedy announced that Moscow had agreed to withdraw their II/28 bombers within thirty days and in response America would lift its blockade. On Christmas day 1962, a Soviet ship quietly left Havana with the last of the tactical warheads. Khrushchev's anger with Castro subsided in January 1963 as he sent him a 27-page letter, which received mixed reviews in Cuba. However, in March 1963 Castro agreed to visit the Soviet Union where he stayed for a month and had several meetings with Khrushchev discussing Soviet policy in Algeria, Angola and Albania. Khrushchev also authorized military support for Cuba and renewed the nuclear guarantee that he had first made in the summer of 1960. In June 1963, Kennedy looked forward in his ground-breaking American University speech to an early agreement on a comprehensive test-ban treaty. The 'Hot Line' was also established. The Cuban missile crisis had passed into history; but Castro still loomed in the background as a potential obstacle to the achievements of the new Kennedy/Khrushchev relationship.
NIGEL CLIVE
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

One Hell of a Gamble
One Hell of a Gamble by Timothy Naftali (Paperback - 31 Jan. 2001)
Used & New from: £1.78
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews