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Never has the world come as close to the catastrophic destruction that nearly came to pass in October 1962. The United States and the Soviet Union, uneasy allies in World War II but Cold War rivals after the defeat of Germany, squared off over the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. This launched 13 days of tense negotiations between the two nations, as both President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev prepared for the possibility of nuclear war.

While neither man wanted a war and understood the potential consequences, the situation was not merely in their hands. Khrushchev faced pressure from Soviets to take a hardline stance against the U.S., while Kennedy faced the real possibility of a military coup if he did not follow the strong recommendations of his military advisors to destroy the missiles. As Attorney General Robert Kennedy said, “The 10 or 12 people who participated in all these discussions were bright and energetic people. We had perhaps amongst the most able in the country and if any one of a half a dozen of them were president, the world would have been very likely plunged into catastrophic war.”

Read more about the history of this short crisis in this book.

HistoryCaps is an imprint of BookCaps Study Guides. With each book, a brief period of history is recapped. We publish a wide array of topics (from baseball and music to science and philosophy), so check our growing catalogue regularly to see our newest books.

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