October 27, 1962 was known as Black Saturday in the Kennedy White House. With the Cuban missile crisis at its height, this was a day of nail-biting developments, when the hands of the metaphorical Doomsday Clock reached one minute to midnight and the world grew closer than ever before (or since) to nuclear apocalypse. On Black Saturday, the opposing Cold War leaders, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, mobilized their forces to fight a nuclear war on land, sea and air. The watching world held its breath in terror. In Bobby Kennedy's words, 'There was a feeling that the noose was tightening on all of us, on Americans, on mankind, and that the bridges to escape were crumbling.' Michael Dobbs tells both the human and the political story of Black Saturday, taking the reader not just into the White House and the Kremlin but along the entire Cold War battlefront with the men who were preparing to fight.We see inside U-2s and nuclear submarines; the armies gathering in Florida and Cuba; American warships and Cuban anti-aircraft batteries; the CIA, the NSA and the KGB; Cold War radio stations and listening posts; the feverish conspiracies of Cuban exiles; Castro's headquarters; Khrushchev's dacha; the underground bunker being prepared for Kennedy; the streets of Washington, Moscow and Havana.
Using a wealth of untapped archival material, Michael Dobbs brings a fresh perspective to this crucial moment in twentieth-century history, which witnessed one of the greatest mobilizations of men and equipment since the Second World War. His thrilling narrative features a cast of characters - including Soviet veterans never before interviewed by a western writer - that ranges from the ordinary to the larger than life, all with unique stories to tell.
Michael Dobbs was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and educated at the University of York, with fellowships at Princeton and Harvard. He is a reporter for The Washington Post, where he spent much of his career as a foreign correspondent covering the collapse of communism. His Down with Big Brother:The Fall of The Soviet Empire was a runner-up for the 1997 PEN award for nonfiction. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.