The Missiles Of October: The Declassified Story Of John F. Kennedy And The Cuban Missile Crisis

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The Missiles Of October: The Declassified Story Of John F. Kennedy And The Cuban Missile Crisis

By Robert Smith Thompson
Simon & Schuster, 1992
395 pp. $25.00
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In this season for debunking John Kennedy, Smith serves a steamy stew of political ambition (the Kennedy family's), defense scandal (the TFX fighter) and miscalculation and overreaction (both John and Robert Kennedy's). He draws on newly declassified material from the National Security Archive, but there is less new here than advertised: there is no evidence Kennedy knew of the offensive missiles before the fateful October U-2 flight, though others (and perhaps he) had grounds for suspicion; and that Kennedy sweetened the outcome for Khrushchev by agreeing to remove U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey-missiles he had wanted out in any event-has become clear in recent years. Smith argues a scatter-shot of conclusions: for instance, both that the crisis was much less than a grand victory ("the Kennedys found themselves, in the end, faced down by that stubby little peasant") and that the result fed the administration's hubris that conduced to tragedy in Vietnam.