This Department features reviews and summaries of new books that link history and current events. From time to time we also feature essays that highlight publishing trends in various fields related to history.
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Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, calls Frankel’s book “riveting” and declares that Khrushchev “was a fool, a dangerous fool: dangerous because he was a practicing sociopath, protected, he thought, by the shield of Leninism and thousands of nuclear weapons.” Certainly planting Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba was an act of madness. Nevertheless, Beichman criticizes Frankel for several omissions, most notably for ignoring a White House session on 0ctober 28, 1962, after the Soviets agreed to withdraw the missiles from Cuba. JFK thanked two members of the joint chiefs of staff for their help during the crisis but, quoting Michael R. Beschloss’s The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960-1963, Beichman mentions how the two military men lashed out at the President:
“Admiral [George] Anderson cried out, ‘We have been had.’ General [Curtis] LeMay pounded the table: ‘It’s the greatest defeat in our history, Mr. President…We should invade today.”
Writes Beichman: “I cannot understand why, in what is an encyclopedic recounting of that confrontation, Mr. Frankel has omitted it.” He also takes Frankel to task for the latter’s “restrained references” to the New York Times’ coverage of Castro’s Cuba. But a few paragraphs later, Beichman admits, “It’s possible that I may be guilty of criticizing Mr. Frankel for not having written the book I would write.”
Washington Times, 0ctober 3, 2004