cover image On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis

On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis

James G. Blight. Hill & Wang, $24.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-374-22634-3

This impressive piece of scholarship consists of an edited transcript of two 1987 conferencesthe first at Hawk's Cay in Florida, the other in Cambridge, Mass.attended by policymaking participants in the Cuban missile crisis and scholars noted for their work on the subject. The book also includes follow-up interviews as well as searching analysis and commentary by Blight and Welch. Among the conferees were Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and George Ball. Among the scholars: Thomas Schelling and Richard Neustadt. Three Soviets took part in the second conference: a former speechwriter for Nikita Khrushchev, Anastas Mikoyan's former personal secretary, and a senior member of the Central Committee. In these extraordinarily candid discussions, the participants trace the development and resolution of the crisis, shedding considerable light on a complex affair. The book is important reading both for students of the 1962 Cuban crisis and as a model of grand-scale crisis resolution. A third conference is to be held, in which high-ranking Cubans are expected to participate. Blight is executive director of Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs, where Welch is a research fellow. (Jan.)