Pigs, Missiles and the CIA; Volume 2: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962
In a follow-up to the Bay of Pigs' attempt to oust Fidel Castro from power in Cuba came the events leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. This 37th book in the Helion & Company Latin America at War series provides daily insights into the identification, escalation, and resolution that took place from January 1961 through December 1962. The author, Linda Rios Bromley, takes the reader into meeting rooms, briefings, and events that took place during one of the most critical events of the post-WW2 world during the 20th century.
For this review, I was provided with the paperback edition of this book, but it is also available in a digital format for those who prefer reading books on electronic devices. The book consists of nine sections titled "Unfinished Business”, “Disrupting the Status Quo”, “A New Crisis”, “The Quarantine”, “Toe to Toe”, “A New Ball Game”, “Cat and Mouse in the Caribbean”, “Resolution”, and “Wrap-up”.An Appendix includes the personal insights provided by five individual participants in the events of the crisis. The book contains several black-and-white photos of people and equipment with some being reconnaissance photos.There are also some illustrated maps that provide interesting perspectives and several full-color prints of aircraft as well as an R-12 missile and a soviet submarine (one full side view and two of the conning towers on additional submarines operating in the Caribbean during the crisis).
The book begins with several abbreviations used throughout the text followed by acknowledgements by the author for those who assisted in this publication. “Unfinished Business” touches on the invasion of Cuba and the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. There is a brief mention of the loss of a U-2 and the capture of pilot Francis Gary Powers in May 1960 in Russia, as well as his swap and release in February 1962. This is followed by a discussion of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in January 1961 and his immediate challenges.
In “Disrupting the Status Quo”, plans made by Nikita Khrushchev to place nuclear-capable missiles in Cuba while vacationing in Crimea as part of Operation Anadyr are discussed. The plan was to install launch sites for both Medium and Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles on the island. This was in part a response to Jupiter missiles that the United States deployed in Turkey. Meetings between the Cubans and Soviets were covered, which led to the deployment of the missiles in Cuba. Although their presence was denied by Khrushchev, reconnaissance photos showed loaded ships at sea as well as installations being built in Cuba.
While there was photographic evidence of the situation dating back to September 1962, the President did not announce the crisis to the public until October 23, as examined in “A New Crisis”. During the crisis, the United States moved forces to DEFCON (Defense Condition) 2, or one level below full-scale war. Movements of Soviet ships and submarines as well as deployments of the armed forces of the United States are covered in detail, which continues in “The Quarantine.”
“Toe to Toe” assesses confrontations that were shaping up in the Caribbean as Soviet ships approached the quarantine line established by the United States Navy. Tense days passed as communications slowly moved between Kennedy and Khrushchev, but the conflict was avoided. “A New Ball Game” begins with the loss of a U-2 piloted by Major Rudolph Anderson over Cuban airspace on October 27th. While there were those pushing for retaliatory strikes by the United States, President Kennedy retained his control over the situation.
“Cat and Mouse in the Caribbean” covers stories of the Soviet submarines operating in the Caribbean and the U.S. Navy ships and aircraft searching for and locating them. Negotiations that took place between October 31st and November 2nd are also discussed, which led to the President announcing the coming removal of the missiles and support equipment.
“Resolution” gives us a look at the return of the Soviet submarines to their home port and the tedious negotiations on removing Soviet Ilyushin Il-28 bombers from Cuba. Once an agreement was reached, the quarantine was lifted on November 20th. The “Wrap-Up” mostly discusses the negotiations surrounding the return of the prisoners taken during the Bay of Pigs invasion back to the United States.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in this dramatic event as a thorough source of information regarding what took place behind the scenes. There can also be some parallels drawn to our current issues around the world and provide some perspectives into the thinking of leaders today. The photographs and illustrations will be a nice resource for modelers wanting to capture equipment that participated in this crisis. In closing, I would like to thank the folks at Casemate Publishers for providing this book for review.