Fifty years ago this week the entire world held its breath as the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union ignited into full intensity during what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Then President John F. Kennedy discovered that the Soviet and Cuban governments had begun to build nuclear missile bases in Cuba, well within range of striking the North American continent, in response to American siting of missiles in Europe and their part in the abortive CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. The Americans embarked on a naval blockade of Cuba which was vehemently denounced by the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, and for almost a fortnight, the world teetered on the brink of a nuclear war, averted only after both parties agreed to withdraw their missiles from the offending sites and the Americans promised never to invade Cuba again.
Britain’s role in the crisis – as one of America’s allies – has been recently marked by English Heritage awarding two former RAF missile sites, one at North Luffenham in nearby Rutland, Grade-2 listings as buildings of significant and architectural importance.
We have several books on the crisis among our impressive history section on Level 2. And if you want to read about the affair as it happened, according to the media of the day, you’ll found full accounts through our electronic newspaper archives on Library Catalogue Plus, including The Times, the Guardian and the Mirror.
Fidel Castro & Nikita Khrushchev postcard courtesy of Radio Rover, reproduced under CC Licence from Flickr.