Cubans Reflect On The Missile Crisis08:14
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In this 1960 photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro, center, speaks with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, right, as his Foreign Minister Raul Roa, left, looks on during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The world stood at the brink of Armageddon for 13 days in October 1962 when President John F. Kennedy drew a symbolic line in the Atlantic and warned of dire consequences if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dared to cross it. (AP/Prensa Latina)
In this 1960 photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro, center, speaks with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, right, as his Foreign Minister Raul Roa, left, looks on during the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The world stood at the brink of Armageddon for 13 days in October 1962 when President John F. Kennedy drew a symbolic line in the Atlantic and warned of dire consequences if Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev dared to cross it. (AP/Prensa Latina)

It's been 50 years since the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis - the closest the world has come to nuclear war. It started when a U.S. spy plane spotted a Soviet military base in northern Cuba equipped with nuclear weapons capable of reaching Washington and beyond.

They were there because Cuba feared the U.S. was planning to invade and topple its socialist revolution. Five decades later, Cuba's socialist system with Fidel Castro as its figurehead is still in place.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford has been out in the Cuban countryside, on the trail of the history of October 1962.

We also asked some historians and military analysts to recommend books about the Cuban missile crisis.

Slate magazine's Fred Kaplan recommends Sheldon Stern's "The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality" and "Khrushchev's Cold War: The Inside Story of an American Adversary" by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.

Boston University professor and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich recommends "Berlin 1961" by Frederick Kempe

Guest:

  • Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University and a retired Army colonel.

This segment aired on October 16, 2012.

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