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Transformations of Warfare in the Contemporary World
Victory Fever on Guadalcanal
Eyeing the Red Storm
A Different Face of War
Misunderstanding Terrorism
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Optimizing Cyberdeterrence
Around the World with LBJ
Texian Iliad
The Fishing Creek Confederacy

Cuban Missile Crisis in American MemoryCuban Missile Crisis in American Memory

Myths versus Reality

Sheldon M. Stern

Narrated by Robert J. Eckrich

Book published by Stanford University Press

This book exposes the misconceptions, half-truths, and outright lies that have shaped the still dominant but largely mythical version of what happened in the White House during those harrowing two weeks of secret Cuban missile crisis deliberations. A half-century after the event it is surely time to demonstrate, once and for all, that RFK's Thirteen Days and the personal memoirs of other ExComm members cannot be taken seriously as historically accurate accounts of the ExComm meetings.

Sheldon M. Stern was the Historian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library from 1977 to 1999. He is author of Averting 'The Final Failure': John F. Kennedy and the Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Meetings.


“[Stern's] new book marshals irrefutable evidence to succinctly demolish the mythic version of the crisis ... Reached through sober analysis.”

—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic

“Stern is not alone in questioning the precision of the transcripts offered, but he has made the most painstaking attempt to clarify what was really said and done.”

—Alice George, Journal of American History

“Timed for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Stern... exposes myths about the crisis. [He] provides an important interpretation grounded in careful research.”

—Karl Helicher, Library Journal

The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory offers a compelling reassessment of [the] events [of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis]. Using tapes of ExComm meetings (the ad hoc group formed to meet the crisis), Stern challenges much of the received wisdom. In particular, he rejects Robert F. Kennedy's dovish self-portrayal in Thirteen Days (1969), finding instead a consistent hardliner who, for instance, opposed an American naval blockade in favor of air strikes.”

—James Clyde Sellman, Colloquy

“In Stern's judgment, President Kennedy displayed leadership, remaining calm during the crisis and staring down his belligerent civilian advisers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff... Recommended.”

—S. G. Rabe, CHOICE

“The latest addition to the outstanding Stanford Nuclear Age series ... Informed and informative, The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality is a seminal work of impressive scholarship and a highly recommended addition to academic library 20th Century American History reference collections in general, and 'U.S. Soviet Union Cold War Studies' supplemental reading lists in particular.”

The Midwest Book Review

“It has taken nearly 50 years to get a history of the Cuban missile crisis as it really was, as opposed to how it was initially (and for many decades) managed and manipulated by the Kennedy inner circle as well as gullible journalists and historians. For that we have Sheldon M. Stern to thank.”

—Max Holland, Contributing Editor, The Nation, and Editor,

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