Mon, 17 May 2021

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm BST

Nuclear Folly – A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Serhii Plokhy, Professor of History, Harvard

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For four weeks in 1962, the world teetered. Drawing on recently declassified KGB files, Serhii Plokhy, will transport us back to the Cuban missile crisis and the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

The consequences of a misplaced step during the Cuban Missile Crisis could not have been more grave. Ash and cinder, famine and fallout; nuclear war between the two most-powerful nations on Earth.

In conversation with Matthew d’Ancona, Harvard historian and award-winning authority on Eastern Europe Serhii Plokhy will tell the riveting story of those weeks, tracing the tortuous decision-making and calculated brinkmanship of John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev and Fidel Castro, and of their advisors and commanders on the ground. More often than not, Plokhy will argue, the Americans and Soviets simply misread each other, operating under mutual distrust, second-guesses and false information. Despite all of this, nuclear disaster was avoided thanks to one very human reason: fear.

Drawing on the impressive array of primary sources, including the recently declassified KGB files, Plokhy will illustrate the drama of those tense days. Authoritative, fast-paced and unforgettable, don’t miss this powerful new account of the Cold War’s most perilous moment.

Praise for Serhii Plokhy’s Nuclear Folly:

“Nearly sixty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Serhi Plokhy, the author of multiple ground-breaking books on Soviet history, once again uses newly released KGB archives to offer a new perspective. In gripping, granular detail, he shows us just how close the U.S. and the Soviet Union came to Armageddon” – Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy

“If you think the story of the Cuban missile crisis has been told so often that nothing remains to be learned, think again. Drawing on KGB documents preserved in Ukrainian archives and Soviet military memoirs, as well as American documents and Cuban materials, Serhii Plokhy’s almost hour-by-hour account freshly illuminates mistakes by the Kremlin and the White House that triggered the crisis, and snafus at sea and in Cuba that almost sparked a nuclear war” – William Taubman, author of Gorbachev

“An excellent overview of the Cuban missile crisis from one of America’s leading Cold War historians. A thrilling read that justifies his sobering conclusion: we may not be so lucky next time” – Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight

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Serhii Plokhy

Professor of History, Harvard University

Serhii Plokhy is Professor of History at Harvard University and a leading authority on Eastern Europe. His books include Baillie Gifford winner Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy, Lost Kingdom, The Gates of Europe and The Last Empire.

Matthew d’Ancona

Award-winning journalist and author

Matthew d’Ancona is an award-winning journalist and author. He is an Editor and Partner at Tortoise Media, and was previously Editor of The Spectator, lifting the magazine to record circulation. He has written columns for the Evening Standard, Guardian, Daily and Sunday Telegraph, GQ, and the International New York Times. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London, and was elected a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, in 1989. He has two sons and lives in London.