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Personal Log : The Cuban Missile Crisis

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The Log I chose the subject of the Cuban Missile Crisis because I have always been interested in the Cold War and especially the relationship between President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev. The missile crisis seemed to be the perfect topic as I already had several books on Kennedy, which contained information on the crisis. My original question was "Who played the most important role in bringing about a peaceful conclusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy or Premier Khrushchev." Therefore my early reading centred on this question. The sources I studied were all secondary, either books or videos. I wanted to produce a highly analytical study and started by making detailed notes on three relatively new books. I purchased One Hell of a Gamble by Fursenko and Naftali, A Question of Character by Thomas Reeves and The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh. I started my research by reading One Hell of a Gamble. After making substantial notes I found that this book contained more factual than analytical information and was disappointed by its content. I then read large sections of the biographies, The Dark Side of Camelot and A Question of Character. The three books I had read all contained useful information on the build-up to the crisis and the events of the crisis itself. However, all three books took different viewpoints on who played the most crucial role in bringing about a peaceful conclusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis. ...read more.


The book proved very useful when writing my first chapter entitled "Kennedy the Hero." Although many of the opinions held by American journalists seem slightly exaggerated the book nevertheless contained a body of useful information and opinion, which I could easily use when writing up my study. The Kennedy Crises along with A Question of Character and The Dark Side of Camelot proved the most useful books when it came to "putting pen to paper", simply because they contain a vast amount of pertinent information and opinion. After thoroughly reading and making notes on the four aforementioned sources, I read sections of two other books The Kennedy Clan by J.Davis and Kennedy by Ted Sorensen one of President Kennedy's speechwriters. Although these books do not contain huge amounts of opinion concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis, they were still useful. Kennedy gives a very overstated view of President Kennedy's handling of the crisis and Sorensen firmly believes that the President was a hero, who was instrumental in the ending of the crisis. It is easy to understand why Sorensen puts across this view as he was so closely linked to the President. However, one could say that Sorensen was next to Kennedy at every point during the crisis, and therefore would be a good judge of how the President handled the situation and whether he played the most crucial role in bringing about a peaceful conclusion to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I used The Kennedy Clan very little. ...read more.


I found the writing of my conclusion relatively easy. The book I agreed with most was A Question of Character by Thomas Reeves. I felt he gave the most balanced and convincing view much of which came through in my conclusion. The other books I studied gave well argued views, but I simply felt that they were exaggerated in some cases. After finishing my study I was able to listen to the Kennedy tapes, which are recorded extracts of President Kennedy in meetings with EX-COMM. After extensive listening I felt that the tapes reinforced my view that it was the President who played the most crucial role in the handling and eventual ending of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy seems calm and in control of the situation throughout the meetings, and is at no point overcome by the seriousness of the crisis. I feel that I have learnt a great deal by researching this topic. Both leaders have always interested me and the process of reading many different books and watching documentaries was certainly a fulfilling experience. Nearly all of the material used in my study was of a western origin and the only reservation I have is that I could not find more material produced by Russian historians. However I think that I managed to answer the question thoroughly even without these sources. If I had a little longer on my study I would have developed the traditional Soviet view and also my final chapter, which asked whether both John Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were irresponsible gamblers. 1 S. Hersh "The Dark Side of Camelot" p.362 2 Timewatch BBC Documentary ...read more.

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