Read as much as you want on BostonGlobe.com, anywhere and anytime, for just 99¢.

letters

JFK took right lessons from World War I book

 President Kennedy conferred with his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, at the White House

ASSOCIATED PRESS/FILE 1962

President Kennedy conferred with his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, at the White House

RE “WHAT JFK didn’t know” (Ideas, Oct. 21): I beg to differ with Jordan Michael Smith, who, in his article on President Kennedy and the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, contends that JFK’s wise restraint was based on Barbara Tuchman’s subsequently discounted thesis on World War I’s “accidental” beginning, as laid out in her book “The Guns of August.” In fact, the disclosure that the German military high command wanted war in order to control Europe buttresses Tuchman’s major contribution to JFK’s thinking: namely, the proof that no nation’s civilian leader should dare entrust to her or his military leadership the decision about whether to go to war.

As “The Guns of August” clearly points out, not only were the military of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Russia ready to go to war, but both the French and German high commands had plans for a quick military victory over the other. Both were tragically and totally wrong; their blindered optimism resulted in the destruction of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires, the rise of Communism in Russia, and four years of devastating trench warfare in northern France, killing millions of young men, and ending only because of US military intervention.

Continue reading below

I think JFK understood the whole story.

Cornelius Hastie

Jamaica Plain

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com