In his new book, The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myth vs. Reality (Stanford University Press; October 15, 2012; $24.95), published to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of one of the most significant episodes in American history, former historian at the John F. Kennedy Library Sheldon Stern, exposes the misconceptions, half-truths, and outright lies about what happened in the White House during those harrowing two weeks of secret Cuban missile crisis deliberations. One of the very few, if not the only, historians to have actually listened to the ExComm recordings of the Cuban Missile Crisis in their entirety, Stern takes on the many myths that have come to dominate our understanding of that critical event in US history. The revelations in Stern's book have already garnered a significant amount of national news coverage, including this piece from the October 14 Boston Globe.
Chief among the key myths Stern overturns is that JFK was the hawk and RFK the dove during these negotiations. As Stern adamantly states, “[O]nly one person at the ExComm meetings consistently and persistently resisted the advocates of military escalation from the ExComm, the Joint Chiefs, and the Congress: President Kennedy himself.
A half-century after the event it is surely time to demonstrate, once and for all, that RFK's Thirteen Days and the personal memoirs of other ExComm members cannot be taken seriously as historically accurate accounts of the ExComm meetings.
For a truly in-depth discussion of the crisis, including commentary by Stern and other experts, watch watch C-SPAN's coverage of the Kennedy Library's "Cuban Missile Crisis: A Fiftieth Anniversary Retrospective"
About the Author: Sheldon M. Stern was historian at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1977 to 2000. He was the first non-member of the ExComm, as well as the first
historian, to listen to and evaluate all the secret White House tape recordings made during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.