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

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

by Norman Polmar
     
 

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Anyone who lived through it remembers the terror, the uncertainty, and the dread that in an instant the world as we knew it might cease to exist. For the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the future seemed to hang by a thread; nuclear holocaust not only seemed possible, but likely. U.S. military forces around the world were placed on high… See more details below

Overview

Anyone who lived through it remembers the terror, the uncertainty, and the dread that in an instant the world as we knew it might cease to exist. For the thirteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the future seemed to hang by a thread; nuclear holocaust not only seemed possible, but likely. U.S. military forces around the world were placed on high alert, and American nuclear bombers and land-based missiles were moved to DEFCON-2: the highest state of readiness short of war. The military forces of the Soviet Union were moved to a similar level of readiness, and both sides were ready for World War III.

DEFCON-2 presents the most complete, lively, and shocking account of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the events leading up to it that has ever been published. Drawing from hundreds of newly declassified American and Soviet documents, as well as interviews with numerous individuals who were directly involved in the political, military, and diplomatic aspects of the crisis, this chilling narrative is the first to fully reveal how close the world came to Armageddon in 1962.

Authors Norman Polmar and John Gresham provide a detailed description of the run-up to the crisis in the summer of 1962. They demonstrate how the Kennedy administration's virulent antipathy to Fidel Castro and tendency toward Cold War gamesmanship fueled Nikita Khrushchev's desire to shield the Castro regime, even as he tried to redress the Soviet inferiority in strategic missiles that could strike the American homeland.

Even more unsettling than this face-off between strong and determined world leaders are the startling number of "small" events and details, any one of which might have triggered a worldwide conflagration. As the crisis progressed, a U2 spyplane was lost over the North Pole and eastern Siberia; an exhausted Soviet submarine commander in the Caribbean considered using a torpedo armed with a nuclear warhead if necessary; and urgent communications between the two superpowers depended, in large part, on the reliability of Western Union messenger boys on bicycles!

As Tom Clancy remarks in his memorable foreword to this unforgettable tale: "The reality of the confrontation in October 1962 was more bizarre and more frightening than anything I have written." Just how strange things became is revealed in interviews with the U.S. Air Force photo interpreter who first sighted the Soviet ballistic missiles in Cuba, a KGB agent stationed in Washington in 1962, a U.S. Navy officer stationed on the quarantine line during the crisis, and yes, that Soviet submarine commander who, for a few crucial minutes, held the fate of the world in his hands.

Tom Clancy said it: truth is stranger and scarier than fiction. And DEFCON-2 is more gripping, more thrilling, and more terrifying than any novel you will ever read.

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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:
9781620459614
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
01/01/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,172,918
File size:
7 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"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, best-selling author of Dangerous Ground

"DEFCON-2 should become a standard reference work on the missile crisis."
--Proceedings, the professional magazine of the US Navy

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