Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev “repaid me for my opposition [to placing Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba] by sending me to tell [Fidel] Castro that the missiles had to be removed,” the seasoned Soviet diplomat Anastas Mikoyan once quipped. This marvelous volume by Mikoyan’s late son, appearing only now in English, recounts the tough negotiations that followed between his father, the Cuban leadership, and the Kennedy administration over the weapons, the presence of which Washington had at one point been utterly unaware of and which risked making Cuba a nuclear power. The older Mikoyan, a remarkably skillful survivor in Bolshevik circles, came to perceive the youthful Cuban leadership (notably Castro and Che Guevara) as too emotional and idealistic, and he told them point-blank, “We see your readiness to die beautifully, but we believe that it isn’t worth dying beautifully.” The book’s appendix features 50 documents carefully selected from Mikoyan’s personal papers and Soviet archives that offer many fascinating glimpses of some leading personalities of the Cold War era.
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In This Review
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