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In October 1962, my Troop Carrier Air Force Reserve Squadron at the Air Force Reserve section (now gone) of O'Hare Field was activated because of the "Cuban Crisis." During the day my day job was to "play soldier" (the Army equivalent of a Clerk/Typist) and at night I would drive to my home on Chicago's south side. No one worried about nuclear incineration, and in due course we were deactivated and returned to our civilian careers. It is truly said that ignorance is bliss. If I had know then what I know now, after reading One Minute to Midnight, I don't think I would have slept as soundly as I did. That's why I listened to this book, and why I recommend it. Somewhat more detailed than necessary, it discusses some facts never before disclosed, and points out that the Soviets kept secret for over 40 years that they had deployed tactical nukes in Cuba, in addition to Intercontinental Missiles that targeted, among many other U.S. cities, Washington and New York! I simply never realized how close we came to Armaggedon. Worth reading if you lived through it, and for historical purposes if you didn't, but it brings home the fact that Kennedy and Khrushchev were both level-headed leaders that understood the horrors of war and were therefore able to avoid it, that Castro was willing to plunge the world into nuclear holocaust for the sake of his revolution, and that the "terrorist world" in which we now live does not seem to have the same rational inhibitions to prevent it should a similar confrontation again arise. Well worth your time, especially if your a student of 20th century American history.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
The book and the narration are top notch. You stay riveted as you listen, or at least I did. I listen to a lot of audio books and this is in the top tier...highly recommended. It has important implications to learn from, many newly presented for the first time, according to the author.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of One Minute to Midnight to be better than the print version?
I haven't seen the print version. Audio editions are better for me to absorb, but worse to refer back to. It annoys me when names are wrongly pronounced: that's not a problem for a print edition.
What other book might you compare One Minute to Midnight to, and why?
I think of W S Churchill writing on the Second World War. Both authors are accomplished historians and draw on a vast store of facts, yet offer some fascinating anecdotes amusingly told. Both sum-up brilliantly and produce original, compelling analyses of the causes and results of their historical topic.
What about Bob Walter’s performance did you like?
The narrator pronounces Spanish names and quotations well, but Russian less confidently. His voice is pleasing and avoids sounding monotonous, which would be easy with so much detail to recount.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
In Dobbs's conclusions he quotes Jackie Kennedy writing personally to Nikita Kruschev after JFK's assassination: "You and he were adversaries, but you were allied in the determination that the world should not be blown up. The danger that troubled my husband was that the war might be started not so much by the big men as by the little ones." Apart from being a touching admission to a national enemy by a grieving widow, this gets to the heart of the matter. Together with the JFK quote "There's always some son-of-a-bitch that doesn't get the word!" it sums up the book's subject matter and findings.
Any additional comments?
In 1962 the two superpowers juggled with the future of humanity like Laurel and Hardy trying to negotiate a flight of steps with a grand piano. Secretary of State Dean Acheson later claimed nuclear war was averted "by pure dumb luck". But for all their miscalculations and personal failings, let's be grateful it was JFK and NK who led their respective countries and not any of their gung-ho advisors.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This audiobook makes absorbing history effortless. Like listening to a quality thriller, it draws you in and makes you feel like an insider to the events while maintaining the integrity of an authoritative piece of research. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This book is exceptional in both its novel-like structure, and historical content.
The book manages to stay packed to the brim with information, while at the same time never dragging on.
Constantly engaging and sometimes hilarious, this is the one of the best history books ever written.