Front Burner

Lessons from the Cuban missile crisis

Sixty years ago, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world the closest it’s ever been to a full-scale nuclear war. As tensions ramp up between the U.S. and Russia, what lessons might that previous conflict hold?
Former United States president John F. Kennedy, right, meets with Nikita Khrushchev, former chairman of the council of ministers of the Soviet Union, at the U.S. Embassy residence in Vienna, Austria, in this June 1961 handout image. (Evelyn Lincoln/Reuters)

Sixty years ago, the Cuban missile crisis brought the world the closest it's ever been to a full-scale nuclear war. The story that's often told about those 13 days is one of American might triumphing over the USSR — but that's not what really happened. 

The true story of that crisis is actually about a relationship between two men who decided to secretly work together to avert a global disaster.

While we're certainly not in another Cuban missile crisis today, experts believe this is the closest the U.S. and Russia have come to a nuclear conflict since that time. So today, we're going to tell the story of those 13 days in 1962, and look at whether they may hold lessons for today.

Our guest is Andrew Cohen, a professor at the University of Carleton's School of Journalism and Communication, and the author of several books including Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours that Made History. 

Listen on Google Podcasts

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

now