By Alice L. George
For 13 days in October 1962, the US stood on the verge of collapse of nuclear conflict. Nikita Khrushchev's choice to put nuclear missiles in Cuba and John F. Kennedy's defiant reaction brought the potential for remarkable cataclysm. The rapid risk of destruction entered America's school rooms and its residing rooms. anticipating Armageddon offers the 1st in-depth examine this problem because it simmered outdoors of presidency workplaces, the place usual american citizens discovered their govt used to be unprepared to guard itself or its electorate from the risks of nuclear war.
During the seven days among Kennedy's declaration of a naval blockade and Khrushchev's selection to withdraw Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba, U.S. electorate absorbed the nightmare situation unfolding on their tv units. An anticipated ten million american citizens fled their houses; hundreds of thousands extra ready shelters at domestic, clearing the cabinets of supermarkets and gun shops. Alice George captures the irrationality of the instant as americans coped with dread and resignation, humor and pathos, terror and ignorance.
In her exam of the general public reaction to the missile quandary, the writer finds cracks within the veneer of yankee self assurance within the early years of the distance age and demonstrates how the fears generated by way of chilly struggle tradition blinded many american citizens to the hazards of nuclear battle until eventually it was once virtually too past due.
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Extra resources for Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis
Kennedy repeated a rumor of a Communist plot to journalist Hugh Sidey: Soviet envoys, Kennedy said, reportedly had smuggled parts of an atomic bomb in diplomatic pouches and assembled the weapon in their Washington embassy. 31 Strangely, while each side perceived dramatic diﬀerences with the other, Cold War dueling employed similarly overdrawn rhetoric on both sides of the ideological divide. When jfk revealed the missiles in Cuba, he said, ‘‘The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards .
S. politicians stressed the evils of a totalitarian state, a tactic that let them use that war as a foreshadowing of World War III, linking Communism with Fascism and Soviet leaders 24 t h e s h a d o w o f d e a t h with Hitler. That tortured linkage made nuclear war seem potentially necessary and almost palatable. In a nation that feared a monolithic enemy, slogans like ‘‘Better Dead Than Red’’ found receptive audiences. Such zealous feelings, however, were dangerous. ’’ 28 To some, war seemed inevitable.
But it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world. The cost of freedom is always high—but Americans have always paid it. ’’ 32 The Soviets responded in kind: ‘‘We want peace. But we never have feared, and do not fear, threats. We realize that the aggressive actions of the United States constitute a serious danger to the peace of the whole world. ’’ 33 In truth, when American or Soviet leaders sought to back away from tough rhetoric and explore peaceful relations, they faced attack from militant factions at home.