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katharine whittemore

6 books on the Cuban Missile Crisis

‘Ken, you will never know how much bad advice I received in those days.” That’s what John F. Kennedy said to John Kenneth Galbraith just after the Cuban Missile Crisis. But now we do know, and with terrifying precision; it turns out JFK taped the ExComm meetings. ExComm, as in the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, a group he specially convened for the crisis.

There were 20 meetings in all, with some 20 at the table. The names include McGeorge Bundy, General Maxwell Taylor, Adlai Stevenson, Dean Rusk, LBJ, and Robert McNamara. The recording device itself hissed away in the White House basement. JFK pushed a discreet button located under the Excomm conference table. He was good at hitting on, but sketchy about hitting off. Sometimes, you can hear the clank and scrape of the cleaning crew after hours.

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