Abyss (Paperback)
  • Abyss (Paperback)
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Abyss (Paperback)

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Paperback 576 Pages
Published: 11/05/2023
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Waterstones Says

From superpower leaders to Cuban peasants, the acclaimed military historian and author of Operation Pedestal takes a panoramic look at the most nerve-jangling episode in twentieth-century history, when Cold War tensions threatened to explode into nuclear conflagration.

The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was the most perilous event in history, when mankind faced a looming nuclear collision between the United States and Soviet Union. During those weeks, the world gazed into the abyss of potential annihilation.

One of its most terrifying moments came on 18 October, when President John F. Kennedy and his advisers discussed the prospect that, if US forces invaded Cuba to remove the missiles secretly deployed there, the Soviets would seize West Berlin. Robert Kennedy asked: 'Then what do we do?'. General Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: 'Go to general war, if it's in the interests of ours'. The President asked disbelievingly: 'You mean nuclear exchange?'. Taylor shrugged: 'Guess you have to'. His words highlight the madness that overtook some key players on both sides. Mercifully, JFK recoiled from the soldier's view saying: 'Now the question really is to what action we take which lessens the chances of a nuclear exchange, which obviously is the final failure'.

Max Hastings' graphic and brilliant new history tells the story from the viewpoints of national leaders, Russian officers, Cuban peasants, American pilots and British disarmers. Max Hastings deploys his accustomed blend of eye-witness interviews, archive documents and diaries, White House tape recordings, top-down analysis, first to paint word-portraits of the Cold War experiences of Fidel Castro's Cuba, Nikita Khrushchev's Russia and Kennedy's America; then to describe the nail-biting Thirteen Days in which Armageddon beckoned.

Hastings began researching this book believing that he was exploring a past event from twentieth century history. He is as shocked as are millions of us around the world, to discover that the rape of Ukraine gives this narrative a hitherto unimaginable twenty-first century immediacy. We may be witnessing the onset of a new Cold War between nuclear-armed superpowers. To contend with today's threat, which Hastings fears will prove enduring, it is critical to understand how, sixty years ago, the world survived its last glimpse into the abyss. Only by fearing the worst, he argues, can our leaders hope to secure the survival of the planet.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008365035
Number of pages: 576
Weight: 430 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 36 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

PRAISE FOR ABYSS: ‘Grabs from the get-go… as if this were the very best fiction’ Daily Mail ‘A brilliant, beautifully constructed and thrilling re-assessment of the most perilous moment in history’ Daily Telegraph ‘Frightening but hopelessly addictive’ The Times ‘Magisterial… chilling’Daily Express ‘Brilliantly told… compelling… Hastings has cleverly woven the story together from all sides describing them in dramatic, almost hour by hour detail… this is a scary book. Hastings sees little evidence that today’s leaders understand each other any better than they did in 1962’ Sunday Times ‘Deeply researched, incisively intelligent and compulsively readable. Abyss is as tight and smart account as any account and will earn pride of place even on a shelf already packed with books about the crisis’ TLS ‘A gripping retelling of those weeks of brinkmanship, reckless gambles, gung-ho generals and a thuggish USSR leader bullying a ‘weak president’’ Sun ‘Superb… reads like a thriller as the gripping drama of the Cold War power politics plays out behind closed doors in Washington, Moscow and Havana’ Daily Mail ‘Hastings lays bare, with chilling clarity, the ease with which political theatre and bluster could well have escalated into a scenario of mutually assured destruction’ Observer

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“All a bit scary”

Max Hastings has produced yet another masterpiece. This book is not going to be a best seller in the USA. Hastings unveils in graphic form how essentially macho the US armed forces are with extremely limited brain... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 22

“A triumph of modern history writing.”

I loved this book.

Hastings delivers a superb analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He does this in his usual fashion of providing excellent and revealing background detail without ever getting bogged down... More

Hardback edition
2 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 21

“An enthralling account of a horrifying crisis”

One of the wonders of the modern world is just how Max Hastings can write on average a book every year while maintaining such a uniformly high quality. And even with a back catalogue filled with gems such as All Hell... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 21

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