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Fires of October. The Cuban Missile Crisis That Never Was: The Invasion of Cuba and World War III

Fires of October. The Cuban Missile Crisis That Never Was: The Invasion of Cuba and World War III
Autor: Blaine L. Pardoe
Data publikacji: 2013-10
ISBN: 9781781551967
Wydawca: Fonthill Media
Język: angielski
Wymiary: 23.9 x 15.5 x 2.8 cm
Oprawa: twarda
Liczba stron: 208
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Opis produktu:

This book examines American contingency plans for the invasion of Cuba in 1962 that were developed before the Cuban missile crisis. To my knowledge, no other book is devoted exclusively to these plans, although Norman Polmar's Defcon-2 and Anatoly Gribkov and William Smith's Operation Anadyr discuss them at a lesser level of detail. Fires of October is therefore a unique and welcome addition to the literature on the Cuban crisis of late 1962.

Pardoe begins with a discussion of American contingency planning from 1959 to 1961. He then describes the Soviet "defensive" arms shipments to Cuba in 1960-61, the Cuban army, navy, and air force, and the Soviet buildup in Cuba in 1962. The discussion of Cuban and Soviet forces relies primarily on Gribkov and Smith's book, which is now 20 years old, rather than any new archival sources. The only quibble I have with these chapters is that he considers the Soviet arms shipments to Cuba a "response" to the Bay of Pigs. In fact, these shipments began long *before* the Bay of Pigs, and thus could not be a response to this event.

The author gives a short chapter on the terrain, vegetation, and climate of Cuba. He then proceeds to the development of the missile crisis in the summer of 1962. He shows that American military planning against Cuba was well advanced by October of 1962, for the obvious reason that the massive Soviet buildup in August and September had set off alarm bells in the Pentagon.

The next portion of the book is the examination of the American invasion plans. Pardoe shows where the US units would have landed. The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and 1st Infantry Division would have conducted the initial assault along with the 2nd Marine Division, with the 2nd Infantry Division and 1st Armored Division as reinforcements. He describes the plan to isolate Havana and capture ports for follow-up echelons to use. This would have been by far the largest airborne and amphibious assault since World War II.

The author examines the chain of command and the challenges involved in mobilizing large ground and tactical air forces secretly and quickly. He may overstate the difficulties somewhat -- after all, the US enjoyed "home field advantage" in this crisis and employed the highly developed transportation and base infrastructure within the continental US itself. A lot of organizational and logistical SNAFUs would have been sorted out in the event of actual combat.

The most interesting chapter is the author's evaluation of how well the invasion would have fared, based on the invasion plans and ex post facto knowledge of Soviet and Cuban deployments. The US had the great advantage of overwhelming air and naval superiority, but the author considers that American airborne and Marine forces would have faced heavy going against the Soviet mechanized forces of which US intelligence was unaware. Much would depend on how fiercely the Cubans fought. The author considers that there was a real prospect of protracted guerrilla war even after the US crushed all conventional resistance.

A final chapter assesses the possible results of escalation to nuclear conflict. The author correctly observes that the effects of an American nuclear strike on the USSR would have been devastating. Pardoe does, in my opinion, exaggerate the effects of a Soviet nuclear attack on the USA in 1962. He bases his assessment on a Defense Department analysis from early 1962, and the assumptions behind this analysis are not completely clear. The analysis appears to assume a "worst case" Soviet strike that catches the US by surprise, which would not have been the case in October 1962.

There are a few other technical nits here and there, but nothing that seriously detracts from the author's major arguments. The book is easy to read and well supplied with supporting maps. Anyone interested in the Cuban missile crisis, Cold War history, or the history of the Kennedy presidency should read this book.

Fires of October is the military history of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Specifically, it covers the conflict that did not happen – the invasion of Cuba and other planned military actions where the world came perilously close to a nuclear Armageddon. Using recently declassified materials for the first time, the invasion of Cuba is laid out complete with all of the pitfalls and misinterpretations of intelligence at the time. The US expected heavy casualties in the largest amphibious operation since the Korean Inchon landings. Moreover, the invasion was based on old intelligence, dated maps and wilful misconceptions about the size, strength and composition of the Soviet forces on the island. Who would have won? How would the invasion have likely played out? For the first time ever, these topics will be presented in a compelling and engaging format.

 

 

About the Author

Blaine Pardoe is an award-winning author of numerous military history books. He has been a featured speaker at the US National Archives, the US Navy Museum and the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. Pardoe has written previously for Fonthill Media with The Bad Boy: Bert Hall - Aviator and Mercenary of the Skies.

 



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