The Bay of Pigs

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Overview

"In The Bay of Pigs, Howard Jones provides a concise, incisive, and dramatic account of the disastrous attempt to overthrow Castro. He examines the train of missteps and self-deceptions that led to the invasion of U.S.-trained exiles at the Bay of Pigs. Ignoring warnings from the ambassador to Cuba, the Eisenhower administration put in motion an operation that proved nearly unstoppable even after the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Meanwhile, the CIA and Pentagon both voiced confidence in the outcome of the invasion, especially after coordinating previous successful coups in Guatemala and Iran. As a vital part of the Cuban effort, the CIA sought to incite a popular insurrection by recruiting the Mafia's help in engineering Castro's assassination on the eve of the invasion. And so the Kennedy administration launched the exile force toward its doom in Cochinos Bay on April 17, 1961." Jones gives an account of the battle - and the confusion in the White House - before moving on to explore its implications. The Bay of Pigs, he writes, set the course of Kennedy's foreign policy. It was a humiliation for the administration that fueled fears of Communist domination and pushed Kennedy toward a hardline "cold warrior" stance. But at the same time, the failed attack left him deeply skeptical of CIA and military advisers and influenced his later actions during the Cuban missile crisis.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this brief, standard survey, University of Alabama historian Jones (Mutiny on the Amistad) concludes that the 1961 "CIA-engineered" Bay of Pigs invasion marked "a new direction in [U.S.] foreign policy" by combining military force and assassination. When Castroa's seizure of power in 1959 led to mass executions and bellicose anti-American rhetoric, President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to draft a plan for Castroa's overthrow. The plan included Castroa's assassination and landing a brigade of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. Pressed by building Cold War anxiety in his ranks, President Kennedy approved the plan after taking office in 1961, but reduced air cover in order to conceal U.S. involvement, and an invasion "built on questionable premises and dubious assumptions" quickly foundered. While the abortive invasion "solidified" Castroa's rule, the author says, failure didna't deter Kennedy, whose administration made the overthrow of Castro its "central focus." Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jonesa's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change. 30 b&w illus; maps. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

It is sometimes hard to believe from our vantage point that in the early 1960s the U.S. government was so obsessed with Fidel Castro that it plotted various ways to get rid of him. President Kennedy inherited plans begun by Eisenhower to invade Cuba, and, after hasty consultation with his advisers (both military and civilian), he cautiously approved a nighttime invasion of the southern coast of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion was doomed from the start: Kennedy called off air support, the invasion spot was surrounded by a dense swamp, and Castro knew all about the project beforehand (he was tipped off by his friends in the Kremlin). Kennedy ended up deeply embarrassed and never trusted his military advisers again. Khrushchev was emboldened by his belief that Kennedy was a weakling, and 18 months later the world faced the much more serious Cuban Missile Crisis. American decision makers evidently learned nothing about the dangers of invasions-witness the results of our invasion of Iraq-so history indeed seems to repeat itself. Jones (history, Univ. of Alabama; Mutiny on the Amistad) has crafted an exceedingly impressive history of this tragic event that should stand as the definitive treatment for years to come. Essential for all history collections.
—Ed Goedeken

Kirkus Reviews
A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War: the failed, American-sponsored attempt to invade Cuba and remove Fidel Castro from power. Fed up with Castro's anti-American rhetoric and alarmed at his growing ties to the Soviet Union, President Eisenhower approved a covert CIA plan to overthrow the Cuban government. By the time the Kennedy administration took office, the CIA had assembled a paramilitary force of Cuban dissidents in Guatemala and contemplated ways, with Mafia assistance, to assassinate the troublesome Cuban dictator. Fearful of the PR hit that would surely come by disbanding the brigade (leaving them free to tell their story), reluctant to appear complacent about Castro's machinations and relying on the advice of his more experienced advisors, JFK went ahead with the plan that ended in the death of 114 and the capture of 1,179 out of the 1,511-man force that stormed the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. With remarkable efficiency, Jones (History/Univ. of Alabama; Death of a Generation: How the Assassinations of Diem and JFK Prolonged the Vietnam War, 2003, etc.) examines all aspects of the debacle that depended on a series of unlikely contingencies: the killing of Castro, an indigenous insurrection to supplement the invaders and, crucially, air support from the U.S. military. The author apportions blame among the CIA-Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell emerge as the chief villains-the Joint Chiefs who signed off on a military plan for which they bore no responsibility, and the White House, seized by seeming Cold War imperatives and seeking plausible deniability for a scheme that, from the beginning, had little hope of disguising presidential fingerprints. The disaster leftCastro more firmly in power than ever, with Kennedy privately fuming and ridiculed on the world stage, and publicly forced to assume responsibility, memorably observing that "victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan."May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate.
From the Publisher
"A readable and concise study of the events leading to the military and political disaster in April 1961...This book should be must reading for our two presidential candidates and their staffs."—St. Petersburg Times

"Jones has crafted an exceedingly impressive history of this tragic event that should stand as the definitive treatment for years to come. Essential for all history collections." —Library Journal (starred review)

"Jones, University Research Professor of History at UA and the author of Mutiny on the Amistad, tells this story not in a single page but in nearly hypnotic detail. He has researched the events with great care and thoroughness, using now-declassified records from the CIA, Senate committee hearings, and a host of other sources."—Tuscaloosa News

"A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War... With remarkable efficiency, Jones... examines all aspects of the debacle... May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate."—Kirkus Reviews

"Howard Jones's The Bay of Pigs broke new ground both with documentation and interpretation. In doing so, he also painted a broader Cold War brush in showed the foreign relations legacy of both the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis."—Cold War Times Magazine

"A concise and highly informative account of the planning and execution of this foreign policy debacle...An excellent revisiting of a tragic episode of the cold war."—-Booklist

"Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jones's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change."—Publishers Weekly

"The Bay of Pigs, based on deep research, is a hard-hitting history of the Cold War mentality that led American leaders not only to back a badly flawed invasion but also to plot all manner of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and others in his circle."—James T. Patterson, author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore

"An unsparing portrait of an epic disaster, a tale of overreach, incompetence, hubris and self-delusion, of every level of American government at its worst. The Bay of Pigs had far-reaching consequences, and from Howard Jones' account it becomes clear why."—James Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin

"This is the definitive history of John F. Kennedy's greatest policy calamity. More thoroughly researched than any previous work on the subject, it is also succinct, nuanced, and exquisitely balanced in its treatment of the president and the CIA."—Brian Latell, author of After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba's Revolution, and Senior Research Associate, Cuba Studies, University of Miami

"Howard Jones has written a page-turner, beginning the moment he describes Fidel Castro's planes roaring out of Havana and heading toward the helpless Cuban exile brigade on Red Beach. He also shows conclusively how the invasion-poorly planned, driven by self-deception and inertia-solidified Castro's rule, destroyed U.S.-Cuban relations, and reinforced the American government's paranoia that any criticism of its foreign policy constituted a threat to nation security."—Stephen Schwab, retired CIA official currently teaching at the University of Alabama

"A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War... With remarkable efficiency, Jones... examines all aspects of the debacle... May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate."—Kirkus Reviews

"Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jones's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change."—Publishers Weekly

"The Bay of Pigs, based on deep research, is a hard-hitting history of the Cold War mentality that led American leaders not only to back a badly flawed invasion but also to plot all manner of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and others in his circle."—James T. Patterson, author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore

"An unsparing portrait of an epic disaster, a tale of overreach, incompetence, hubris and self-delusion, of every level of American government at its worst. The Bay of Pigs had far-reaching consequences, and from Howard Jones' account it becomes clear why."—James Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin

"This is the definitive history of John F. Kennedy's greatest policy calamity. More thoroughly researched than any previous work on the subject, it is also succinct, nuanced, and exquisitely balanced in its treatment of the president and the CIA."—Brian Latell, author of After Fidel: Raul Castro and the Future of Cuba's Revolution, and Senior Research Associate, Cuba Studies, University of Miami

"Howard Jones has written a page-turner, beginning the moment he describes Fidel Castro's planes roaring out of Havana and heading toward the helpless Cuban exile brigade on Red Beach. He also shows conclusively how the invasion-poorly planned, driven by self-deception and inertia-solidified Castro's rule, destroyed U.S.-Cuban relations, and reinforced the American government's paranoia that any criticism of its foreign policy constituted a threat to nation security."—Stephen Schwab, retired CIA official currently teaching at the University of Alabama

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199754250
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Series: Pivotal Moments in American History Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 641,796
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard Jones is the author of Mutiny on the Amistad and Death of a Generation. He is University Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama.

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Table of Contents


Editor's Note     xi
Acknowledgments     xv
Prologue     1
Genesis     9
Trinidad     31
Zapata     45
Politics     75
D-Day     95
Requiem     113
Inquisition     131
Epilogue     153
Notes     175
Bibliography     215
Index     225
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2012

    ALERT ALERT

    MURDER AT MURDER RES 1

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    Capr.cody

    Works

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    The police station

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    A Good Read

    This book was very well written. I'm a really big fan on reading about the Kennedys and this book was really exciting. I never knew how the Bay of Pigs operation fell, but this book nailed it!

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    Posted November 13, 2008

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    Posted April 26, 2010

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    Posted June 28, 2010

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