By Alice L. George
For 13 days in October 1962, the United States stood on the verge of collapse of nuclear conflict. Nikita Khrushchev's selection to put nuclear missiles in Cuba and John F. Kennedy's defiant reaction brought the potential of remarkable cataclysm. The quick chance of destruction entered America's school rooms and its dwelling rooms. watching for Armageddon offers the 1st in-depth examine this obstacle because it simmered open air of presidency workplaces, the place traditional americans discovered their govt was once unprepared to guard itself or its electorate from the hazards of nuclear war.
During the seven days among Kennedy's declaration of a naval blockade and Khrushchev's selection to withdraw Soviet nuclear missiles from Cuba, U.S. voters absorbed the nightmare state of affairs unfolding on their tv units. An envisioned ten million americans fled their houses; thousands extra ready shelters at domestic, clearing the cabinets of supermarkets and gun shops. Alice George captures the irrationality of the instant as americans coped with dread and resignation, humor and pathos, terror and ignorance.
In her exam of the general public reaction to the missile main issue, the writer finds cracks within the veneer of yank self assurance within the early years of the gap age and demonstrates how the fears generated through chilly struggle tradition blinded many american citizens to the risks of nuclear warfare till it used to be nearly too overdue.
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Extra resources for Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis
22 In all, the Soviet merchant marine and navy made 185 trips to Cuba during this period. The Soviet military assigned 42,000 troops to Cuba 23—four times as many as the Central Intelligence Agency estimated at the time. 25 In the late summer and early autumn of 1962, the United States kept a wary eye on Soviet arms shipments. A U-2 ﬂight on 29 August spotted no nuclear missiles but showed some structures later identiﬁed as eight surfaceto-air missile sites in Cuba, evidence that future surveillance ﬂights would be in danger of attack.
In a press conference after Gagarin’s ﬂight, he said, ‘‘We are in a period of long drawn-out tests to see which system is . . ’’ 10 After Soviet successes in space, there was a growing sense among Americans that good guys did not always ﬁnish ﬁrst. The rightness of American democracy was never in doubt for most Americans, but in a battle based on durability, many feared a Soviet victory. This changing attitude even made an impact on popular culture. PreSputnik television programming had oﬀered a plethora of Westerns conﬁrming what Americans knew after World War II—that the good and the just always triumph.
Public responses to this crisis demonstrated nascent cracks in the nation’s facade of prosperous stability that had characterized the 1950s and early 1960s. Confronted with the reality of defenselessness in the nuclear age, some Americans recognized the faulty underpinning of their boundless belief in the nation’s power and could not avoid seeing dangerous ﬂaws in the nation’s reigning Cold War culture. It made catastrophic war almost unavoidable and wholly acceptable to many Americans who feared Communism more than annihiintroduction 5 lation.