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Review: Vivien Horler

Abyss – the Cuban missile crisis 1962, by Max Hastings (William Collins)

Over the past 60 years I’ve had a pretty good life. I went to university, obtained two degrees, married, had a child – and now have two grandsons, have travelled, and held down a good job. My pension enables me to live without financial worry.

I have been fortunate, but then, so have we all. Because when I was 10 years old, the world came within a whisker of being blasted to smithereens.

This was at the height of the Cold War, and USSR premier Nikita Kruschev decided to move nuclear missiles to Cuba, aimed at the heart of the United States. He knew very well that US President John Kennedy was going to react to this provocation, but he didn’t care.

Cuba was governed by the gung-ho Fidel Castro, who had fought a guerilla war to overthrow West-leaning dictator Fulgencio Batista and become president. Castro was aided and abetted by his friend Che Guevara, who was not at all the good guy we students thought he was in the 60s and 70s.

Castro, who was something of a loose cannon (pun intended), was hated by many Cuban-Americans and distrusted by the US government. In April 1961, the CIA launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, led by Cuban exiles, in a bid to topple Castro.

It was a dismal failure, and now Castro, never before… Read more

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