When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis In At The Bay Of Pigs, CIA Trained And Organized Cuban Exiles Aiming To Overthrow Fidel Castro Were Soundly Defeated Most Were Taken Prisoner By Cuban Armed Forces Fearing Another US Invasion Of Its New Ally, The Soviet Union Sneaked Into Cuba Strategic Missiles Tipped With Nuclear Warheads And Soviet Troops Armed With Tactical Nuclear Weapons However, A U Spy Plane Flight Would Soon Find The Soviet Missile Sites, Thus Sparking The Famous Missile Crisis For Thirteen Terrifying Days, The World Watched Nervously As The Two Superpowers Moved Toward Escalation, Holding The World S Fate In Their Hands Finally, Nikita Khrushchev Blinked He Agreed To Withdraw The Weapons From Cuba In Return For John F Kennedy S Pledge Not To Invade The IslandBut What If It Had Not Turned Out This Way What If The U Flight Had Been Delayed If The Confrontation Had Set Off A Nuclear War, What Would Have Happened To The United States And Soviet Union In What Kind Of Account Would A Historian Have Written In A World Scarred By Nuclear War Eric G Swedin Draws On Research Made Available After The Soviet Union S Collapse To Examine What Could Have Happened Top US Military Officers All Urged Stronger Action Against Cuba Than The Naval Blockade, Including A Bombing Campaign And Even A Full Scale Invasion Unknown To The Americans, Meanwhile, The Soviet Union Had Tactical Nuclear Weapons In Cuba And Were Prepared To Use ThemThe Crisis Had Many Possible Outcomes Positing An Alternate History Helps Us Better Appreciate The Dangers Of That Tense Time Such Counterfactual Speculation Shows What The Cuban Missile Crisis Could Have Wrought And How It Was Truly One Of The Most Important Moments Of The Twentieth Century

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis book, this is one of the most wanted Eric G. Swedin author readers around the world.

➵ [Reading] ➷ When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis By Eric G. Swedin ➪ – Ultimatetrout.info
  • Hardcover
  • 307 pages
  • When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Eric G. Swedin
  • English
  • 04 October 2018
  • 9781597975179

10 thoughts on “When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

  1. says:

    Alternate history is an orphan genre, abandoned by its true parent, history, and raised by science fiction in much the same way Marxist guerrillas raise child soldiers Under SF s dubious supervision, alt history has become the domain of rightwing cranks who are too afraid to say flat out, You know, I think it d be kinda cool if the Nazis had won, or It s really too bad the Confederacy lost the Civil War when they were such an upstanding buncha guys The scenarios are never very good, and often seem written with no research beyond a high school history book HINT The Soviet Army would ve crushed the Nazis even if D Day had failed Within the history community, alt history is seen as a parlor game at best, something that s fun to argue over but not to be taken seriously And yet, every once in a while a historian gets an itch to try their hand at a detailed counterfactual.Alas, they re only ever marginally better than their SF counterparts.When Angels Wept is a case in point.Swedin spends the first half of the book going over the real background on the crisis, covering the history of strategic bombing, rocketry, the Cuban Revolution and Exile movement, and the biographies of both Nikita Khrushchev and John F Kennedy This is a passable introduction to the topic if you re completely unfamiliar with the Cuban Missile Crisis, but since it s not the meat of the book, Swedin basically just summarizes secondary sources If you re familiar with the background, the most interesting thing about this section is trying to guess the source before checking the end notes.Once the crisis arrives, Swedin abandons real history for his version of events The point of divergence is the U2 overflight that detected the Soviet missile work Instead of taking place on 14 October, bad weather delays it for a week, by which point the missiles were much closer to completion All fine and good Weather is arbitrary enough that it makes a perfectly fine point of divergence one of my favorite alternate histories is from Reynold s Century Rain, where heavy rain bogs down the Nazi advance into France, allowing the Anglo French forces to halt the blitzkrieg and halt WWII in its track.But it seems to me that Swedin palms a card here There s a second point of divergence, which is that in Swedin s history Nikita Khrushchev apparently went insane at some point and spends the latter part of the book making irrational decisions Khrushchev was certainly erratic, but his behavior was always rational if you understand the pressure he was under from hardliners in the Kremlin But not here For some reason, never adequately explained, the one week delay causes Khrushchev to up the stakes with his demands, putting Berlin back on the table and insisting that the US withdrawal of missiles from Turkey and promise not to invade Cuba be made public Later he responds to Kennedy s blockade of Cuba with his own of Berlin There s no reason for his actions regarding Berlin He d settled the city s fate in his favor a year earlier with the Wall and had no reason to rebroach the subject now and certainly not to take military action against the city, something he d made a point of avoiding during the Berlin Crisis itself.As for the issue of the US removing missiles from Turkey and promising not to invade Cuba, I don t see anything wrong with Swedin s suggestion that Khrushchev may have insisted upon the deal being made public if he d been in a stronger negotiating position However, I take issue with how Swedin treats the subject, treating Khrushchev s position as insane while giving Kennedy a pass for rejecting it Kennedy, in Swedin s version of history, couldn t have accepted the proposal without making himself appear unacceptably weak to right wingers right before the midterm election But wait Khrushchev would ve wanted the deal to be public so he wouldn t appear week to his own hardliners in the Kremlin Remember, in the real world the deal was kept secret, making Khrushchev look like he backed down in the face of Kennedy s threat, which led to the hardliners deposing him two years alter Why is it okay for Kennedy to act to appease right wingers, but not for Khrushchev to appease hardliners But once the book gets over this hump and we get to the actual war, the story improves markedly In the popular imagination, a nuclear war is an automatic game over for mankind, and books and movies that portray it as survivable are laughed at as prepper fantasies That s a perfectly reasonable position to take for works set in the later Cold War, but we tend to forget that massive nuclear arsenals didn t magically appear overnight For most of the 1950s, the Soviet stockpile of weapons was small tiny compared to the massive arsenal the US had built up That changed in the 1960s, thanks in large part to Kennedy s fear mongering about the supposed missile gap, which forced the Soviets to ramp up weapons production to counter the seemingly crazed Americans But at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the balance of power was still heavily in America s favor We had enough nukes to glassify all of Eurasia, but the Soviets lacked the ability to do the same to us, even if all their bombs reached the US which was unlikely to happen, considering they were still heavily reliant on bombers, which can be shot down, instead of ICMBs which can t.Realistically, the US would ve won a nuclear war in 1962 It would have been Pyrrhic beyond belief, with tens of millions dead in the United States, and Eurasia turned into a wasteland Nevil Shute to the contrary, the Southern Hemisphere would have remained safe from the worst of the fallout Other environmental effects may have made life unpleasant, but suicide pills would ve been unnecessary Now if the war happened in 1972, or 82, it d be a different matter Swedin s damage assessment is the most interesting part of the book, and it s too bad it couldn t be detached and published by itself without having to wade through the other parts I wouldn t mind seeing an anthology with various historians working out plausible scenarios for nuclear war at different points in the Cold War.

  2. says:

    This is probably one of the best alternate history books I have read in a long time When Angels Wept by Eric G Swedin deserved this year s Sidewise Award It is a plausible and powerful testament to the destructive capabilities of mankind.The book is unique in that it is not in narrative form, like most alternate histories Written as a history book by an American historian living in Australia, Swedin uses OTL sources to explain how and why events took place as they did in this timeline Starting with the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, we see how the American supported Cuban exiles failed to overthrow Fidel Castro due to President Kennedy s attempts to maintain plausible deniability Fearing another American invasion of their only Latin American ally, the Soviet Union sneaked into Cuba strategic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads and Soviet troops armed with tactical nuclear weapons At this point most of the book follows OTL history, with a couple of nuggets thrown in referencing the post 1962 world that reminds you that this did not really happen Things begin to change when the U 2 spy plane flight that would have discovered the Soviet missile sites is delayed When they are discovered Nikita Khrushchev is less willing to pull them out and the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union sets off a nuclear war Kennedy listens to his military officers recommendations to begin a naval blockade, a bombing campaign and finally a full scale invasion of Cuba Unknown to the Americans, however, the Soviet Union had tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba and they have every intention of using them.Swedin paints a vivid picture of the destruction that followed The pages he reserved to discuss the destruction of my hometown, Chicago, could not stop me from picturing the devastation or what might have happened to my own family Would Grampy Moran the firefighter, who lived in the suburbs at the time, be part of the futile efforts to stop the blazing inferno from engulfing the city Did Grampy and Grammy Mitrovich live far enough away from the blast to survive and lead their family safety Sadly I doubt this is a world that yours truly exists in.Perhaps this book may not be for the casual alternate history fan, especially if they have not read that many real history books to begin with That is shame, however, because you are missing out on a novel that reminds this reviewer how much fun history can be.

  3. says:

    This was a very interesting book I enjoyed learning a little about this incident, as before I only had a basic grasp of what actually happened I also enjoyed the speculative part of the book things could have turned out very differently if only a few decisions were made differently.I recommend that anyone interested in this part of history should read this book The narrative is very easy to follow, and I think the observations and conclusions made by the author are very sound.

  4. says:

    CHILLING ALTERNATE HISTORY BOOKThis exceptional history alternate history book chilled me to the core Students of the Cold War know how close the U.S and the U.S.S.R came to nuclear war in October 1962, and this book describes what could have happened The author purports to be an Australian historian writing in 1996, which is 36 years after The Fire The book starts with a description of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 The Kennedy administration inherited the plan from the Eisenhower administration, and JFK never fully embraced the invasion, nor thought through the outcome The seeds of destruction were sown in that poorly planned and thought out attack on Cuba.When Angels Wept Eric G Swedin is a very engrossing and readable history book On page 167 of 274 the alternate history truly begins President John F Kennedy takes the advice of his generals and launches conventional bombing raids on Cuba to destroy the nuclear missile launching pads the Soviets and Cubans were constructing Bad weather, or one spy plane flight, done a few days later than it actually flew, could have been the whole difference in global nuclear war.The book does an excellent job of describing the principal characters, JFK, Nikita Khruschev, Fidel Castro, warmongering General Curtis LeMay, and several others It also describes the run up to the conflict, especially the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, which JFK completely bungled What I never understood before was that JFK s mistakes during that period informed him later so that he did not make the same mistakes during those 13 days in October In this alternate version he does make a terrible mistake and attacks Cuba, which leads to nuclear war The U.S did not know that the Russians had brought tactical nuclear weapons to Cuba and were prepared to use them in case of an invasion, which turns out to be the trigger for the Kennedy administration.A nuclear attack by the Russians in 1962 was suicide for them, though Khruschev apparently did not understand that at the time The U.S had a far superior bomber force, and many long range missiles, which the excellent author, Eric Swedin points out in great detail General LeMay was correct in thinking that it was a good time to have a nuclear war, as the U.S would devastate the U.S.S.R., but the cost would still be incredibly high for the U.S and the world The U.S would have been the winner, but mainland Europe, Britain, China, Japan, Korea, and Russia would have been annihilated If nuclear war had occurred in the 70 s or 80 s it would have been so much worse, but even in 1962 the nuclear apocalypse would have been beyond awful.The last 100 pages of the book make for gripping reading and are terrifying Reading about the war plans of both sides and seeing what the collateral effects would have been scared me big time Also, the mention of civil war in the U.S after the conflict and the surprising vice president who takes office in the next election fascinated me The conclusions and the analysis of the whole situation make this book worth the read I had a hard time putting it down and kept thinking about it when I was not reading.When Angels Wept won the prestigious Sidewise Award and it deserves all the acclaim it has garnered If you area student of history, or lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis, I think you ll find this book fascinating, and horrifying.The world came so close to destruction in 1962, and examining the potential outcomes helps us all realize how important it is to have intelligent, well informed, and strong leadership world wide.EXCEPTIONAL BOOK, HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDPaul Genesse

  5. says:

    This book is a wonderful alternate history book looking at the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and imagining how it could have gone very differently between the US and USSR.The author Eric Swedin is an associate professor in the History Department at Weber State University and this book won the 2010 Sidewise Award for best alternate history novel.It is not really a novel per se, but rather a history book looking back at this possible branch in history from another near future The first 4 chapters recount actual history giving the background on Kenney, and Khrushchev and reviewing the Bay of Pigs fiasco At this point the author tosses in a change, the U2 flight that discovered the Soviet missile sites in Cuba is stalled by a few days due to cloudy weather From there the tension is wrung up because the US leaders when they do get the news find active missile sites They have to move faster Different decisions are made and military options that we avoided are used This book rings true thanks to the author s understanding of history and the pacing and players that make up these types of events He never goes wild in his exploration of how it could have played out differently It rang so true, that in reading it I actually felt sad as the battle heated up and slowly drifted out of control But with each step it made sense to me, which upset me He makes a great reference to World War One and The Guns of August which I have yet to read though it s sitting on my shelf on how an occurrence like this can take on a life of its own and pull humanity and history along for an unwelcome ride, leaving only the survivors to look back and wonder on how it could have gone so badly so quickly Read this and be thankful that we never experienced this what if.

  6. says:

    Alternate history is not my favorite sub genre Somehow it seems wrong to me Sort of like getting the science wrong in a science fiction novel With that said, I did enjoy Eric s book But it took a hundred pages or so for that to happen Eric s story is not told as a novel It is told as a history book Khrushchev and Kennedy are the main characters Lots of facts, figures, and footnotes As a history book, it is well written As a novel, not so much The story is a what if story about the Cuban Missile Crisis I appreciated the afterward that confirmed my quess about what parts were real history and what were not At first, it was like reading a textbook, which has never been my favorite occupation I used to read novels hidden inside my history book in school But about halfway through, the story situation caught me I wanted to see how it ended Especially if you like alternate history, you should read this one.

  7. says:

    Amazing book very well written it is really scary to think what could have happened if the peace talks wouldn t have worked or if the Soviet generals would have taken matters into their own hands out of fear of what the Americans might do Hopefully human history can stick with the two bombs the U.S used in WWII

  8. says:

    After reading this book, I was struck by how close the world came to nuclear war, and worse, my non birth, during the Cuban Missile Crisis The author uses lots of primary sources from the real events and gives an alternate history that is both plausible and horrifying Great bed time reading

  9. says:

    A Terrifying Reminder of What Might Have BeenProfessor Swedin s meticulously researched and sensitively written account of the nuclear war that almost occurred as a result of the U.S Soviet showdown in October 1962 should remind us all of the grave danger humanity faces from nuclear weapons a danger in many ways greater now than it was fifty years ago Highly recommended.

  10. says:

    Very interesting book Was a quick read for me Well over half the book is straight forward history, then a cloudy day substitutes for a clear one and every thing changes The good news is it looks like I would,have survived.

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