Maximum danger : Kennedy, the missiles, and the crisis of American confidence /
Robert Weisbrot.
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2001.
viii, 275 p. ; 23 cm.
1566633923 (alk. paper)
More Details
Chicago : Ivan R. Dee, 2001.
1566633923 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Robert Weisbrot is the Christian A. Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at Colby College.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-09-15:
President Kennedy was neither the solitary profile in courage nor the reckless, macho avenger claimed by those with either pro- or anti-Kennedy views who have investigated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Instead, Weisbrot (Freedom Bound) portrays him as a sensible leader during a hair-trigger phase of the Cold War. Kennedy's conflict with Soviet Premier Khrushchev was motivated and limited by diplomatic rule established at the outset of the Cold War 15 years earlier: fighting Communist expansion, especially in the Western Hemisphere, without killing Soviet soldiers. This understanding made the President more cautious than his advisers, Congress, and the public, inflamed by major newspaper columnists, who would not tolerate at any cost Soviet missiles 90 miles from the United States. This intriguing appraisal of the Missile Crisis emphasizes foreign policies and public perceptions rather than fixations on Kennedy's character. Most enlightening is the dialog about the important but secret role the removal of the Jupiter missiles in Turkey played in the crisis's peaceful resolution. This stimulating complement to The Presidential Transcripts: John F. Kennedy; The Great Crises is recommended for public and academic collections. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-09-10:
The trouble with most historical examinations of the Cuban missile crisis, contends Colby College historian Weisbrot (Freedom Bound), is that they focus too much on the character, motivations and actions of one man, JFK. In this view, he was either a saint or a sinner, a wise and calm statesman or a reckless poseur driven by a neurotic machismo. Such interpretations miss the mark, however, as they do not consider the all-important context, "the framework of national values" within which Kennedy had to operate. By looking carefully at magazine articles, newspaper editorials, opinion polls and other sources produced during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Weisbrot shows that America at the time was both fearful and insecure. The arms race with the Soviets was at its height, dangerous confrontations with the Soviets were building in places like Berlin, Khrushchev was seen as a blustering bully, and then there was Cuba. Ninety miles from the U.S., Castro had installed a Communist regime, a dangerous and unacceptable part of what was then seen as the international Communist conspiracy. When Soviet missiles showed up in Cuba, Kennedy simply could not accept it, bound as he was by the dictates of the national mood and the inherited policy of the containment of Communism. Weisbrot concludes that JFK was "a moderate leader in a militant age," and if his willingness to risk nuclear war over missiles in Cuba now seems excessive, it expresses the excesses of an entire age. His story, then, is less about JFK and more a cautionary tale about the American people, who they were at the time, and the pressures they created that no democratically elected leader could ignore. (Oct. 19) Forecast: The 2000 movie Thirteen Days focused mass attention on the Cuban missile crisis, but it's not likely to spill over into large sales of this worthy book. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Choice on 2002-06-01:
Labeling President Kennedy "a moderate leader in a militant age," Weisbrot (history, Colby College) favorably reviews the president during the Cuban missile crisis. The author asserts that because US public and congressional leaders saw US-Soviet relations in "alarmist, even apocalyptic terms," no political leader could expect to challenge those fears. Kennedy had to consider Soviet missiles in Cuba as a "crisis," and he had to take strong action, such as imposing a naval quarantine around the island. But Kennedy fended off demands for an attack on Cuba and resolved the crisis by quietly dismantling US missiles in Turkey. The public loathed communism, but Kennedy chose specific policies--a massive nuclear buildup, Operation Mongoose, Operation Northwoods, assassination efforts against Castro--that precipitated the crisis. Unknown to the public, Kennedy continued to authorize terrorism against Castro's Cuba through 1963. Basing his research on published sources, Weisbrot does not provide a systematic analysis of the complex relationship between public opinion and the making of foreign policy. His "spirit of the times" approach falls short. A scholarly work should also have a bibliography. Appropriate for college and university libraries. S. G. Rabe University of Texas at Dallas
Review Quotes
An engaging narrative...a deft summary of the debates.
A thoughtful and persuasive analysis...Robert Weisbrot succeeds!
Incisive... Maximum Danger redefines the problems confronting Kennedy at this most dangerous moment in human history.
Incisive...Maximum Danger redefines the problems confronting Kennedy at this most dangerous moment in human history.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 2001
Publishers Weekly, September 2001
Booklist, October 2001
Choice, June 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Main Description
Robert Weisbrot for the first time considers the Cuban missile crisis in the full context of history.
Publisher Fact Sheet
This reconsideration of the missile crisis destroys the mythical figure of JFK.
Main Description
Weisbrot moves beyond now common interpretations to argue that JFK in fact explored no new policy frontiers but rather faithfully reflected a remarkable cold war consensus.
Long Description
A new view of the Cuban missile crisis which argues that JFK's actions faithfully reflected a dominant cold war consensus. Incisive.... Redefines the problems confronting President Kennedy at this most dangerous moment. --Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Long Description
In the early 1960s, as a youthful President Kennedy entered the White House, Americans braced for a period of "maximum danger" from the Soviet Union. This nearly universal alarm sprang from rising Soviet missile strength, Communist challenges around the world, and the shoe-thumping bluster of Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Yet popular fears also fed on exaggerated estimates of Russian military prowess, global ambitions, and readiness to risk or even begin a nuclear war. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the gravest collision of the cold war, occurred as these alarms were sounding loudest, generating pressures for bolder action to blunt Soviet advances. Historians and other observers persist in explaining President Kennedy's handling of the missile crisis in merely personal terms, as revealing either unique valor and resourcefulness or reckless machismo. In Maximum Danger, Robert Weisbrot moves beyond these now common interpretations to argue that JFK in fact explored no new policy frontiers but rather faithfully reflected a remarkable cold war consensus. Buffeted by partisan sniping, public opinion, and the force of inherited policies, the president pursued a variety of options while trying to minimize confrontation with the Soviets to a degree consistent with his political survival. By exploring the boundaries that national attitudes can impose on even the most popular leader, Maximum Danger bids to recover the historical figure of John F. Kennedy from the veils of myth.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Rethinking the Cuban Missile Crisisp. 3
Cold War Alarms and the 1960 Campaignp. 12
The New Frontier Under Siegep. 40
"We Just Had to Get Them Out of There": Why Missiles in Cuba Triggered a Crisisp. 76
The Decision to Blockadep. 111
Kennedy's Hidden Concession--to Public Opinionp. 149
Epilogue: The Missile Crisis in Historical Perspectivep. 196
Selected Chronologyp. 215
Notesp. 219
Indexp. 259
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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