Extra History: The Cuban Missile Crisis

The guys and gals over at Extra Credits on YouTube do an occasional series called Extra History where they outline events and people of interest from history. I encourage you to watch the series, they’re very interesting, well researched and very well put together. Just recently they did a series on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Along with the little-known Exercise Able Archer in 1983, this is possibly the closest that we have ever come to nuclear war… Just thinking how close all the secrecy has brought us to midnight makes me feel a little cold at times…

Part 1: The Failed Checkmate

April, 1962: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev is walking near his villa on the Black Sea. He looks across the water. On the far shore is Turkey where, months before President Kennedy had stationed nuclear missiles. Their warheads threaten Moscow, and he wonders: why, then, can’t we do the same in Cuba?

And the world slips one minute closer to midnight…

Part 2: Eyeball to Eyeball

It’s October 22, 7PM. Camera equipment clutters the Oval Office.

3… 2… 1…

The President is live, announcing to 100 million Americans that there are nuclear weapons in Cuba.

The US Military goes to DEFCON3: missiles and bombers can launch within 15 minutes of a Presidential order.

The clock ticks another minute toward midnight.

Part 3: Black Saturday

It’s October 27, 03:35am. The bomber lets go: a flash lights the Arctic Circle. Shockwaves tear outward with the power of 20 Hiroshima bombs. Radioactive ash collects on the barren island below. A Soviet atmospheric test, scheduled before the crisis.

In Cuba, Soviet troops are transporting warheads to missile sites. They, and the American troops in Florida, are prepared for an invasion. At the quarantine line, Soviet subs play cat and mouse with American destroyers. At noon, America conducts its own test: a mushroom cloud rises 60,000 feet over the Pacific.

Thus dawns Black Saturday… The clock sits at 11:59…

At the time of writing, the Doomsday Clock sits at 11:58

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