Publication Date: 13/04/2021 ISBN: 9780241454732 Category:

Nuclear Folly

Serhii Plokhy

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication Date: 13/04/2021 ISBN: 9780241454732 Category:




*Shortlisted for the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History*

‘An enthralling account of a pivotal moment in modern history. . . replete with startling revelations about the deception and mutual suspicion that brought the US and Soviet Union to the brink of Armageddon in October 1962’ Martin Chilton, Independent

The definitive new history of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the author of Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy, winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize

For more than four weeks in the autumn of 1962 the world teetered. The consequences of a misplaced step during the Cuban Missile Crisis could not have been more grave. Ash and cinder, famine and fallout; nuclear war between the two most-powerful nations on Earth.

In Nuclear Folly, award-winning historian Serhii Plokhy tells the riveting story of those weeks, tracing the tortuous decision-making and calculated brinkmanship of John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, and of their advisors and commanders on the ground. More often than not, Plokhy argues, the Americans and Soviets simply misread each other, operating under mutual distrust, second-guesses and false information. Despite all of this, nuclear disaster was avoided thanks to one very human reason: fear.

Drawing on an impressive array of primary sources, including recently declassified KGB files, Plokhy masterfully illustrates the drama of those tense days. Authoritative, fast-paced and unforgettable, this is the definitive new account of the Cold War’s most perilous moment.

Publisher Review

Nearly sixty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Serhi Plokhy, the author of multiple groundbreaking books on Soviet history, once again uses newly released KGB archives to offer a new perspective. In gripping, granular detail, he shows us just how close the U.S. and the Soviet Union came to Armageddon -- Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy If you think the story of the Cuban missile crisis has been told so often that nothing remains to be learned, think again. Drawing on KGB documents preserved in Ukrainian archives and Soviet military memoirs, as well as American documents and Cuban materials, Serhii Plokhy's almost hour-by-hour account freshly illuminates mistakes by the Kremlin and the White House that triggered the crisis, and snafus at sea and in Cuba that almost sparked a nuclear war -- William Taubman, author of Gorbachev An excellent overview of the Cuban missile crisis from one of America's leading Cold War historians. Serhii Plokhy has mined previously untapped Soviet archives to shed new light on the thirteen days that brought the world closer than ever before to nuclear destruction, and the pivotal roles of John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. A thrilling read that justifies his sobering conclusion: we may not be so lucky next time -- Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight A fresh examination of the historical milestone. . . . Plokhy keeps the pages turning, and he includes far more Soviet material than earlier scholars. . . . superbly researched and uncomfortably timely. * Kirkus * Paints a clearer picture of the behind-the-scenes machinations, the motivations, the politics, and the errors in judgment that almost brought about a nuclear holocaust. Plokhy pulls it all together with sober yet accessible prose that reads like a suspenseful thriller. For anyone interested in the Cold War, this is an indispensable read. * Booklist * This important, absorbing work shows that the full story of the Cuban Missile Crisis must be told from its global perspective * Library Journal * Plokhy dives deep. . . . History buffs will savor this balanced and richly detailed look at both sides of the crisis. * Publishers Weekly *

Book experts at your service

What are you looking for?

A recommendation
Something specific
  • Mr B's Recommendation Station
  • Fill in the three questions below, along with your name and email address, and our book experts will be in touch soon with their personal recommendations

  • I'm after something specific
  • Tell us about the book, author or subject you're looking for, along with your name and email address and our book experts will be in touch as soon as possible