The Cuban Missile Crisis

This is the place to discuss the past, its study, and those who study it. Discussion about events that happened less than twenty years ago should go go in Politics instead.
Post Reply
User avatar
Pendaric
Posts: 8508
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:05 pm

The Cuban Missile Crisis

Post by Pendaric » Sun Feb 19, 2017 3:46 pm

Dan Carlin's latest Hardcore History podcast is about nuclear weapons and culminates with an account of the Cuban missile crisis. It's 6 hours long, but worth the time investment.

This happened a few years before I was born, so I don't personally recall it. I am interested in what those who were around remember of the time. Did you really think the world was going to end the next day?

What it has done is made me scared shitless about Trump being in charge of the nukes. I dread to think how it would have turned out had Trump been President then...
fear is the mind killer

User avatar
MattShizzle
Posts: 18963
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Bernville, PA

Post by MattShizzle » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:12 pm

Just refreshed itunes and it hasn't come up. Most of his are very long.

User avatar
Tubby
Posts: 3744
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:32 pm
Location: USA

Post by Tubby » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:36 pm

[quote=""Pendaric""]This happened a few years before I was born, so I don't personally recall it. I am interested in what those who were around remember of the time. Did you really think the world was going to end the next day?
[/quote]

I also was born too late. I'm thinking some of the people in What Really Happened to the Class of '65 (the book) said what had gone through their minds at that time.

User avatar
Tharmas
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:37 am
Location: Dallas, TX USA

Post by Tharmas » Sun Feb 19, 2017 4:49 pm

[quote=""Pendaric""]
This happened a few years before I was born, so I don't personally recall it. I am interested in what those who were around remember of the time. Did you really think the world was going to end the next day?
[/quote]

I was twelve or thirteen at the time. I lived in Dallas, Texas, which was a major defense center, so we knew we were targeted.

I remember that the adults in my life were scared, which was very discomfiting and made me feel helpless. I remember my friend’s mother, who was divorced, asking me whether my father, whom she respected as a successful engineer, was planning to build a fallout shelter. When I told her no she was relieved and decided not to have one constructed in her back yard either.

I remember everyone listening to the radio and watching the TV news all the time. There was cautious optimism as the crisis began to be resolved, and then an immense (national) sense of relief when the Russians pulled out.

Again, these were my observations of the adults around me. I became deeply interested in politics and world affairs, as they seemed integral to my survival. Air raid drills at school became suddenly meaningful. This interest, and the accompanying background sense of dread, lasted until the Berlin wall came down.

My history teacher at school was a member of the National Guard, which was mobilized, so he disappeared from our lives for six months. Again, discomfiting.

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:18 pm

I've not listened to it, but fair warning that Carlin isn't usually well thought of by the historians who study things he chooses to cover.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

Ajay0
Posts: 119
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:27 am

Post by Ajay0 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:47 pm

[quote=""Pendaric""]Dan Carlin's latest Hardcore History podcast is about nuclear weapons and culminates with an account of the Cuban missile crisis. It's 6 hours long, but worth the time investment.

This happened a few years before I was born, so I don't personally recall it. I am interested in what those who were around remember of the time. Did you really think the world was going to end the next day?

What it has done is made me scared shitless about Trump being in charge of the nukes. I dread to think how it would have turned out had Trump been President then...[/quote]

Trump could also take a Russia-friendly approach as he has been doing now and might even had downplayed the threat perception. His business is doing well and he is also the president, so why have a nuclear war and threaten all that he had built up and reduce it to mere dust !

Kennedy had a naval background and this could be the reason why he had the nerve to push the Soviets in this regard to the very edge. Of course he had to pull off the missiles in Turkey targetting the Soviet Union as well in this regard, as part of the deal.
Self-awareness is yoga. - Nisargadatta Maharaj

Evil is an extreme manifestation of human unconsciousness. - Eckhart Tolle

User avatar
Hermit
Posts: 6129
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:34 pm

Post by Hermit » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:39 am

[quote=""Pendaric""]I am interested in what those who were around remember of the time. Did you really think the world was going to end the next day?[/quote]
The fear that the world may very well end the next day was already pervasive before the missile crisis. It was ever-present and very real. People built shelters in which to survive a nuclear attack. In Switzerland it became the law that every house built must include one. The small city I lived in built a dual-function underground parking lot in the CBD. It was designed to double as a nuclear bomb shelter for several thousand people. We had drills involving citywide alarms and instructions on how to speedily get there when they sounded. People who did not live through that period cannot imagine just how this fear was part and parcel of our daily lives. The missile crisis was not as significant as you might think because it did little more than simply justify the already extreme level of the existing anxiety. My parents decided to migrate to Australia because of it. They, like many other people at the time, expected ground zero to be Europe, and specifically Germany.

Eventually, people became more relaxed about the ever present danger, in good part because of the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction. In the face of the likely outcome of pushing the button, we became confident that no leader was mad enough to even contemplate a preemptive strike. And this is where Trump actually poses a greater danger than the missile bases in Cuba and Turkey. He thinks a nuclear war can be won.

User avatar
Tharmas
Posts: 472
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2015 1:37 am
Location: Dallas, TX USA

Post by Tharmas » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:36 pm

The other day my wife, looking through some old papers and scrapbooks, came across two sheets of note paper, written in her childish hand, and titled “Menu for a Nuclear War.”

She had put it together when she was twelve, during the crisis. Perhaps her mother gave it to her as a project to keep her busy and to take her mind off the TV news for a while. It consisted of fourteen dinner menus using non-perishable items. It was supposed to last the two weeks the family would stay hunkered down in their hardware store, while waiting for the fallout to dissipate.

User avatar
DMB
Posts: 41484
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: Mostly Switzerland

Post by DMB » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:57 pm

I was in my early 20s at the time and living in London. It felt to me at that time as though both the USA and the USSR were risking the world. It didn't feel as though anyone was a good guy.

As Hermit said, there was a long-term fear of nuclear weapons. In Britain we knew there would be a maximum of four minute's warning.

We were also afraid that the USSR and the other Warsaw Pact nations would invade western Europe. I don't think anyone felt safe.

I was a fan of Tom Lehrer, who wrote and performed this:

(Not loaded: TIoBrob3bjI)
(View video on YouTube)

Note that world population was then 3 billion.

User avatar
Tubby
Posts: 3744
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:32 pm
Location: USA

Post by Tubby » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:45 pm

I took a quick peek down the hatch of a backyard bomb shelter when working with a classmate on an elementary school assignment that paired us up. Don't know if it is relevant, but that family was Mormon. If there were any other shelters within a few blocks of our house, owners kept quiet enough that I had no knowledge of them.

User avatar
Roo St. Gallus
Posts: 8148
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:32 pm
Location: Cascadia

Post by Roo St. Gallus » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:53 pm

I was ten at the time and my experience rather matches that of Tharmas.

My wife, two years older at the time, explicitly remembers the Crisis as being high anxiety, as she was writing a social studies report on current affairs at the time and had to have her father explain, and re-explain, the building situation.

Yes, most Americans feared that the insane godless Commies would rain atomic missiles on the US, if they ever got the chance. And they would push us to the brink of atomic war to get their nefarious goals.

I find it mildly interesting that most Americans have no inkling of the Soviet, and Cuban, rationale for engaging in such brinksmanship, but that responsibility lies directly in the lap of the US policy...in the placement of mid-range missiles, capable of nuclear warheads, in Turkey.

That's what Khrushev got out of the deal which ended the face-off and removed the missiles from Cuba....the US removing their missile bases from Turkey. Nikky won that one for the Soviets, in other words.
IF YOU'RE NOT OUTRAGED, YOU'RE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!

User avatar
Politesse
Posts: 19647
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:28 am
Location: Chochenyo territory

Post by Politesse » Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:15 am

[quote=""Samnell""]I've not listened to it, but fair warning that Carlin isn't usually well thought of by the historians who study things he chooses to cover.[/quote]

Given that he always plugs their books, that seems like a clear-cut case of "biting the hand that feeds you", if true.

He has yet to tackle any subjects within my sphere of greatest knowledge save an episode which I missed while it was free on the Apache wars. But I enjoy listening to his podcasts. He's frank about his amateur status and the listener should of course keep that in mind.

I especially loved his account of the siege of Muenster, a rare and fascinating moment in history that, having grown up Lutheran, I found most illuminating.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

User avatar
JamesBannon
Posts: 2266
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 12:39 am
Location: Barrhead, Scotland

Post by JamesBannon » Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:41 am

I do recall there was some anxiety at the time, but it was long ago and I was only 4.
Last edited by JamesBannon on Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited because I got my age wrong. Sheesh!
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:55 am

[quote=""Politesse""]Given that he always plugs their books, that seems like a clear-cut case of "biting the hand that feeds you", if true.[/quote]

I think it's more a case of a whole lot of style and rather less substance, combined with his inclination to just make stuff up and then hide his speculation under the "not a historian" line. As a non-professional myself I have mixed feelings there, but I feel like it would be better to either omit that entirely or spend some time talking about ambiguities in the sources.

[quote=""Politesse""]
He has yet to tackle any subjects within my sphere of greatest knowledge save an episode which I missed while it was free on the Apache wars. But I enjoy listening to his podcasts. He's frank about his amateur status and the listener should of course keep that in mind.

I especially loved his account of the siege of Muenster, a rare and fascinating moment in history that, having grown up Lutheran, I found most illuminating.[/quote]

On the color commentary front, I found his delivery grating and couldn't get through the first episode I tried. Haven't been back. Might try if he gets into the antebellum or something. There's an amazing amount of bad antebellum history, some of it pretty shamelessly practiced by people with tenure.

I do appreciate that I probably sounded a little like him on my podcast episodes, though. After we stopped recording the interviewer commented on the fact.

Me, laughing: "Oh, thanks!"
Him: "Oh no, I meant the enthusiasm! You never called yourself a Martian."

He does have that. I may be am a little excruciatingly boring and tend to prefer my history entertainment podcasts in a casual but a bit more restrained style. Obviously it's not my speaking style on these things, but it's the one I tend to get more out of.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

User avatar
Politesse
Posts: 19647
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:28 am
Location: Chochenyo territory

Post by Politesse » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:15 am

[quote=""Samnell""]I think it's more a case of a whole lot of style and rather less substance, combined with his inclination to just make stuff up and then hide his speculation under the "not a historian" line. As a non-professional myself I have mixed feelings there, but I feel like it would be better to either omit that entirely or spend some time talking about ambiguities in the sources.[/quote]
As a card-carrying academic, I find elitist criticism of amateur summaries more than a little bit irritating. If we aren't going to take up the mantle of creating interesting, well-produced material for the public, we can hardly complain when someone else does. I only get upset when the truth is getting misrepresented, especially if there are some ugly racial/sexual/propogandistic undertones behind the misrepresentation. Alas, this happens depressingly often.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

User avatar
Samnell
Posts: 3843
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:45 am
Location: Northeastern Lower Michigan, USA

Post by Samnell » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:42 am

[quote=""Politesse""]As a card-carrying academic, I find elitist criticism of amateur summaries more than a little bit irritating. If we aren't going to take up the mantle of creating interesting, well-produced material for the public, we can hardly complain when someone else does. I only get upset when the truth is getting misrepresented, especially if there are some ugly racial/sexual/propogandistic undertones behind the misrepresentation. Alas, this happens depressingly often.[/quote]

That's fair. What I see of Carlin's back catalog is mostly military and otherwise conventionally large, violence-oriented history. Given what I study most closely involves a running body count (actually a couple, one for deaths associated with major paramilitary movements and one for individual-level violence), I can't begrudge him that too much. It's fairly easy to do much of it without getting into places where one would hit problematic racial or sexual baggage, if you pick the right wars and focus on the right things.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

Post Reply