Friday, October 22, 2010

This Day in History: The Cuban Missle Crisis (And Countdown)

On October 22, 1962 Presient John F. Kennedy  announced that the Soviet Union was building bases in Cuba which housed missiles that would be able to attack Washington, DC and other major cities in the US.

It was a heart stopping moment in the history of the nuclear build up. Kennedy announced a naval quarantine of Cuba to prevent the delivery of any more weapons.

The threat of war intensified over the next six days as the US and the Soviet Union stated their demands and waited to see how each would respond to the other. Meanwhile, US military commanders prepared for war.  Finally, after several touch-and-go events, the two sides reached an agreement. 
  • The United States would remove its missile bases in Turkey.
  • Russia would dismantle its bases in Cuba with the understanding that the US would pledge not to invade Cuba.

Both sides honored their agreements but in the years that followed the build up of nuclear weapons escalated.

Deborah Wiles, author of Countdown remembers this terrible time and was probably more aware of the dangers than some of the rest of us were. I'll let her explain.

I have yet to read Countdown with it's revolutionary documentary novel format. But I will read it soon!

I'm excited to say that Deborah is coming to my hometown next April for Hickory's Little Read. I wonder if she'll need someone to carry her bags?


  1. Just this week I was working on this same period of time researching my schoolhouse project. Several people I've interviewed talked about crawling under their desks during the air raid drills. I guess every generation has its own crisis to forever remember.

  2. Gretchen, I honestly don't remember much about this. I was in third grade. I do know that my fourth grade teacher was really into talk about bomb shelters, Russia, etc. Guess that makes sense since we had just come through the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    Fear and distrust did not begin with 911.

    Have you read Countdown?

  3. What a terrific book trailer and I'll add this one to my "to read list" too. I'm half-way throuhg Mockingbird (amazing!) and next is The Brother's Story. Thanks for your recommended booklist!
    I remember crawling under desks and going into the hallways for air raid drills. I guess we are all history!

  4. Carol, Glad you are enjoying Mockingbird! Will be eager to hear how you like The Brothers Story.

  5. I also blogged about Countdown after reviewing it for the Christian Science Monitor. One interesting thing about the book, to me, was how it hovered between fact and fiction. You'll have to look at it to see what I mean, but it contained so much, both in story and commentary. I loved the book, BTW. Here's my blog entry:

  6. Whoops. Guess that link to my blog didn't go live!
    It was the June 20th blogpost, if you're interested!

    (Ps I find it interesting that my word for verification just now is nomato. And I am feeling very homesick for good summer Jersey tomatoes... Is there a message to be taken?)