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The Cuban Missile Crisis

Origins, Course and Aftermath

Jonathan Colman

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Draws on new sources to examine one of the most dramatic and dangerous episodes in world histor from a global perspective

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a six-day clash in October 1962 between the United States and the Soviet Union over the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Both John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were determined to avoid nuclear war, but events could easily have spiralled out of control with cataclysmic results. This book provides a lucid and up-to-date introduction to the Crisis, including American responsibility for causing it, and Cuba’s role as an important actor rather than a superpower pawn. Drawing on an extensive body of research, including material released only on the 50th anniversary of the crisis, this book places the event in a broader international and chronological context than ever before. It features a number of primary source documents, some of which have rarely − if ever − been reproduced, and includes a discussion of the legacies of the Crisis.

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1. The United States, the Cuban Revolution and the Cold War, 1959-61

2. The Decision to Base Nuclear Missiles in Cuba, Spring-Summer 1962

3. Discovering the Missile Bases, 14-22 October 1962

4. Confrontation, 22-25 October 1962

5. A World Crisis, 22-28 October 1962

6. Nadir and Resolution, 26-28 October 1962

7. Aftermath I, November-December 1962

8. Aftermath II, 1963-70


Appendix 1: List of Persons

Appendix 2: Chronology

Appendix 3: Biographies

Appendix 4: Documents

About the Author

Jonathan Colman teaches international and US history at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, England. He is the author of A ‘Special Relationship’? Harold Wilson, Lyndon B. Johnson and Anglo-American Relations ‘at the Summit’, 1964-68 (2004), and The Foreign Policy of Lyndon B. Johnson: The United States and the World, 1963-69 (2010). He has also published numerous articles in leading peer-reviewed journals.


Drawing on both historical documents and state-of-the-art research, this is a valuable introduction to a seminal and timeless event in conflict resolution and political decision-making.

- Associate Professor in War Studies, Swedish National Defence University, J.J. Widen

Despite the Cuban Missile Crisis being one of the most studied episodes of Cold War confrontation, Colman’s book is a welcome addition. It provides an excellent overview and will be useful for those unfamiliar with the crisis or looking for an accessible introduction. It will be particularly expedient for undergraduate students as, in addition to the discerning analysis, the appendices provide a chronology of events, short biographies of the major players and a selection of 16 key documents, which elucidate aspects of the main arguments. It will also be welcomed by experts in American foreign policy and the international history of the Cold War more broadly, through an engagement with the most recent research and scholarship on the crisis. Colman’s Cuban Missile Crisis is an accessible and eminently readable book for anyone with an interest in the global perspective of one of the most important international events during the Cold War era.

- Conor Tobin, University College Dublin, History: The Journal of the Historical Association

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