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The folly of the Cuban missile crisis

How the world came to the brink of nuclear apocalypse

By Vanora Bennett  
President Kennedy and his generals discuss the Cuban Missile Crisis Credit: Alamy

President Kennedy and his generals discuss the Cuban Missile Crisis Credit: Alamy

As tensions again cloud relations between America and Russia, Serhii Plokhy’s masterful new book takes us back to the worst flashpoint in the 20th century: the autumn of 1962 when a crisis over Cuba nearly ignited a nuclear war.

This terrifying and brilliantly readable tale is drawn from material in US and Russian archives. It brings the reader nose to nose with the untested US president John F Kennedy along with the more experienced Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro in Havana as they postured, bluffed and floundered through weeks that could have destroyed humanity.

The prologue sets…

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