DEFCON-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis

Overview

The closest we've ever come to the end of the world

"DEFCON-2 is the best single volume on the Cuban Missile Crisis published and is an important contribution to the history of the Cold War. Beyond the military and political facts of the crisis, Polmar and Gresham sketch the personalities that created and coped with the crisis. They also show us how close we came to the edge without becoming sensationalistic."
—Larry Bond, bestselling author of Dangerous Ground

Spy-satellite and...

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DEFCON-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis

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Overview

The closest we've ever come to the end of the world

"DEFCON-2 is the best single volume on the Cuban Missile Crisis published and is an important contribution to the history of the Cold War. Beyond the military and political facts of the crisis, Polmar and Gresham sketch the personalities that created and coped with the crisis. They also show us how close we came to the edge without becoming sensationalistic."
—Larry Bond, bestselling author of Dangerous Ground

Spy-satellite and aerial-reconnaissance photos reveal that one of the United States's bitterest enemies may be acquiring weapons of mass destruction and the means to use them against the American homeland. Administration officials refuse to accept intelligence professionals' interpretation of these images and order an end to spy missions over the offending nation. More than a month later, after vicious infighting, the president orders the spy missions to resume. The new photos reveal an array of ballistic missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads and striking deep within U.S. territory. It appears that the missiles will be fully operational within one week.

This is not a plot setup for a suspense novel; it is the true story of the most terrifying moment in the 45-year Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union: the Cuban Missile Crisis. DEFCON-2 tells this tale as it has never been told before—from both sides, with the help of hundreds of recently declassified U.S. and Soviet documents, as well as interviews with numerous former spies, military figures, and government officials who speak out here for the first time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Veteran military analysts Polmar (Spyplane, etc.) and Gresham (Seapower, etc.) distinguish their examination of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis from scores of other books on the subject by detailing how military maneuvers undertaken months in advance led to the tense showdown. The book's title, which is also the name of a Discovery Channel documentary based on this volume, comes from the acronym for Defense Condition Two, the Unites States' highest state of military alert short of war. The only time America went to DEFCON-2 during the Cold War was on October 22, 1962, the day that President Kennedy publicly denounced the Soviet Union's construction of missile launching sites in Cuba. The authors, who interviewed Russian, American and Cuban military men who had leading roles in the showdown, provide new logistical information on how the Soviet Union moved a small nuclear arsenal to Cuba. They deftly meld accounts of what happened in the sea and air with descriptions of the political and intelligence operations in Washington and Moscow. Thoroughly researched and suspenseful, their book is an excellent choice for fans of Cold War history. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
* Veteran military analysts Polmar (Spyplane, etc.) and Gresham (Seapower, etc.) distinguish their examination of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis from scores of other books on the subject by detailing how military maneuvers undertaken months in advance led to the tense showdown. The book's title, which is also the name of a Discovery Channel documentary based on this volume, comes from the acronym for Defense Condition Two, the Unites States' highest state of military alert short of war. The only time America went to DEFCON-2 during the Cold War was on October 22, 1962, the day that President Kennedy publicly denounced the Soviet Union's construction of missile launching sites in Cuba. The authors, who interviewed Russian, American and Cuban military men who had leading roles in the showdown, provide new logistical information on how the Soviet Union moved a small nuclear arsenal to Cuba. They deftly meld accounts of what happened in the sea and air with descriptions of the political and intelligence operations in Washington and Moscow. Thoroughly researched and suspenseful, their book is an excellent choice for fans of Cold War history. (Feb.) (Publishers Weekly, January 9, 2006)

"DEFCON-2 provides significantly more detail than any existing books on the subject. It's a valuable addition to the library of any intelligence professional." (Naval Intelligence Professional Quarterly)

"One of the most striking accounts of the Cold War." (Sea Power magazine)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471670223
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/17/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 440,003
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

NORMAN POLMAR is a regular commentator on the Discovery, A&E, and History channels, and the author of more than forty books on naval, aviation, and intelligence subjects. He has served as an advisor or consultant on defense issues to three U.S. senators and two members of the House of Representatives, as well as to several Navy and Defense officials.

JOHN D. GRESHAM collaborated with Tom Clancy on his bestselling series of guided tours of military units, such as Submarine and Special Forces. He is also the coauthor of an upcoming book on the Special Forces during the war in Afghanistan.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Tom Clancy.

Preface.

Acknowledgments.

Glossary.

Technical Notes.

1. Most Dangerous Moments.

2. Imbalance of Terror.

3. The Cuban Decision: Coming to America.

4. Cuba: The American View.

5. Operation Anadyr.

6. Surveillance and Discovery.

7. ExComm.

8. Consensus and Notification.

9. Taking Action.

10. Crisis beneath the Waves.

11. The View from the Kremlin.

12. “Until Hell Freezes Over!”.

13. Back Channels and Telegrams.

14. OPLAN 316: Invasion!

15. From SIOP to Dr. Strangelove.

16. The Deal: The Turkish Card.

17. Withdrawal.

18. Legacy: The Anadyr Effect.

Appendix A: The Membership of ExComm.

Appendix B: U-2 Missions Flown during Operation Anadyr.

Appendix C: U.S. Naval Forces in the Caribbean.

Appendix D: Soviet Missile Characteristics.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Photo Credits.

Index.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2006

    Very detailed, but repetitive.

    Pros: very detailed account of the crisis and gives a good brief overview of the cold war (before and after). Well documented sources and factual data including military units, policies, weapons, maps & charts. Cons: disorganized timeline and repetitive information throughout the book made it boring to read. In my opinion, the book would have been much better served if the chapters had been laid out in a daily timeline. The authors wrote chapters that describe in detail certain aspects if the crisis. The problem is that each chapter seems to tell the story of the crisis from the beginning. The further you get through the book, it¿s as if your rereading it for the third of fourth time. I went from eagerly wanting to read it to dreading to start the next chapters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2006

    An incredible, frightening must read book

    I was in the third grade when the events recounted in DEFCON-2 happened. So, I remember the air raid drills of ducking under my desk, and of the sirens, and television announcements, and the many shelter signs that appeared on buildings. Norman Polmar and John Gresham have done a tremendous service in presenting this account of the events that happened behind closed doors, and on the field. This is a benchmark work that pulls you in and places you in the meeting rooms, the cockpits, on the decks, and on the ground. It is a frightening story because they reveal just how close we actually came to nuclear war. The courage displayed by the political leaders on both sides for NOT going to war is thoroughly presented. This is a must read book for anyone who is interested in knowning how governments make decisions in moments of extreme crisis.

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