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Books by and about 2020 presidential candidates
Crippled America,
by Donald J. Trump (2015)
by Cory Booker (2016)
The Truths We Hold,
by Kamala Harris (2019)
Smart on Crime,
by Kamala Harris (2010)
Guide to Political Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2017)
Where We Go From Here,
by Bernie Sanders (2018)
Promise Me, Dad ,
by Joe Biden (2017)
Conscience of a Conservative,
by Jeff Flake (2017)
Two Paths,
by Gov. John Kasich (2017)
Every Other Monday,
by Rep. John Kasich (2010)
Courage is Contagious,
by John Kasich (1998)
Shortest Way Home,
by Pete Buttigieg (2019)
The Book of Joe ,
by Jeff Wilser (2019; biography of Joe Biden)
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Our Revolution,
by Bernie Sanders (2016)
This Fight Is Our Fight,
by Elizabeth Warren (2017)
Higher Loyalty,
by James Comey (2018)
The Making of Donald Trump,
by David Cay Johnston (2017)
Books by and about the 2016 presidential election
What Happened ,
by Hillary Clinton (2017)
Higher Loyalty ,
by James Comey (2018)
Trump vs. Hillary On The Issues ,
by Jesse Gordon (2016)
Hard Choices,
by Hillary Clinton (2014)
Becoming ,
by Michelle Obama (2018)
Outsider in the White House,
by Bernie Sanders (2015)

Book Reviews

(from Amazon.com)

(click a book cover for a review or other books by or about the presidency from Amazon.com)

Thirteen Days
A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis

by Robert F. Kennedy

(Click for Amazon book review)

Click here for 5 full quotes from John F. Kennedy in the book 13 Days, by Robert F. Kennedy.
OR click on an issue category below for a subset.

OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:

This book encapsulates the biggest lie perpetrated by the American government on the American people in the 20th century. In October 1962, the United States and the USSR came to the brink of nuclear war historians regard the event as the closest the world ever came to WWIII that part is true, and the book documents it in detail. The Big Lie is about how we avoided WWIII: "Kennedy and Khrushchev went eye-to-eye, and the Russians blinked," goes the standard line that we were all taught in civics class from 1962 until 1997 that's untrue JFK and RFK made a secret deal that stayed hidden for 35 years. But teaching that Big Lie to America for 35 years endangered the world because of its false lessons.

    A summary of the events of the thirteen days in October 1962:
  • Oct. 16: The CIA discovered that the USSR (the Russian-led Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from the Florida coast.
  • Oct 20: President John F. Kennedy (JFK) initiated a naval blockade of Cuba, with the support of the OAS (the Organization of American States, including all of Cuba's neighbors in the Caribbean), with a warning to the USSR that their ships would be forcibly boarded and disabled or turned back.
  • Oct. 22: JFK publicly addresses the nation, announcing a "quarantine" (to avoid using the term "blockade," which is an act of war) until the missiles were removed (from this date forward Americans stayed glued to their transistor radios in fear of WWIII).
  • Oct. 26: Chairman Nikita Khrushchev (leader of the USSR) sends a letter to JFK offering to withdraw the Soviet missiles in exchange for a US promise to never invade Cuba again (this was shortly after the 1961 US-led "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba).
  • Oct. 27 A.M.: The JCS (Joint Chiefs of Staff, representing all branches of the US military) recommended an air strike on Cuba on Oct. 29, followed by a full-scale invasion (this would have been the first battle of WWIII).
  • Oct. 27 P.M.: The Soviet government sent a second letter offering to withdraw the Soviet missiles in exchange for US withdrawal of US "Jupiter" missiles from Turkey (pp.93-5), plus a US promise to never invade Cuba again (this offer was accepted secretly; its secrecy is the "Big Lie").
  • Oct. 28: Robert F. Kennedy (RFK, the president's brother, and the United States Attorney general) suggested ignoring the Oct. 27 letter and accepting the Oct. 26 letter (pp. 101-2), which JFK did, and the Soviets publicly announced their agreement, ending the crisis.
  • Oct. 29: RFK met secretly with the Soviet ambassador to inform them that the US actually accepted the Oct. 27 terms (that's omitted from the book, but is described in one of many analyses released after the 1997 secret document disclosure).
That's a compelling story with numerous lessons learned for future crises but that's not the story America was told. We were told "Khrushchev blinked" i.e. "the way to deal with enemies is to take a hard line and they'll yield." The true lesson is more like "find a quid pro quo" or "negotiating with the enemy avoids war" but for 35 years, the false lesson was taught to America.

I was one of those taught wrong. At Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government (HKS), the Cuban Missile Crisis is the first case study for first-year students, and we were taught the Big Lie that "Khrushchev blinked." Those students then went on to careers in the diplomatic corps and government, where they spread that Big Lie and sometimes acted on it. Our textbook for the Case Study was Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow (both professors at HKS) that book got heavily edited after the 1997 release of the "classified" information telling the truth instead of the Big Lie.

But if you ask people who were around in 1962, they'll still say, "oh, yes, Khrushchev blinked," because that's what they were told for 35 years and nobody except pundits read the secret documents finally released in 1997. United States policy was based on the expectation that other enemies would "blink" if confronted like Americans believed that Kennedy confronted Khrushchev -- that's the Big Lie that was perpetrated ont he American people. The danger of our presidents lying to the American people is that we'll expect different results from reality, like we've expected since 1962.

-- Jesse Gordon, OnTheIssues editor-in-chief, December 2018
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
War & Peace
    USSR removes missiles from Cuba; US ends blockade & invasion.
    Defend vital interests while preventing nuclear holocaust.
    Trading missiles in Cuba for Jupiters in Turkey is a threat.
    Pressure the USSR without causing them public humiliation.
    FactCheck: RFK hid truth of Cuban Missile Crisis until 1997.

The above quotations are from Thirteen Days
A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis

by Robert F. Kennedy

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