About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s virtual author lecture with Serhii Plokhy, author of Nuclear Folly.

Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.

On Tuesday, April 20, at noon, author Paula Yoo tells us about her book, From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, which examines the outrage over the 1982 killing of Vincent Chin and the federal civil rights trial that galvanized the Asian American Movement.

And on Thursday, April 22, at noon, we will have a special Earth Day program with Richard J. Lazarus, the author of The Rule of Five: Making Climate History at the Supreme Court, a book that tells the story of the most important environmental law case ever decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

* * *

In October 1962, the world came the closest it’s ever come to nuclear armageddon. The discovery of Soviet missiles being installed in Cuba triggered the most dangerous encounter of the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. After 13 anxious days, the two nations reached a resolution, both aware of the danger of mutual destruction.

But it wasn’t just a showdown between two rivals—it was a global crisis. Serhii Plokhy offers an international perspective on the crisis in his new book, Nuclear Folly—one based on a range of archival documents, including White House recordings in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and previously classified KGB records in Moscow.

* * *

Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. A leading authority on Eastern Europe and Russia, he has published extensively on the international history of the Cold War. His award-winning books include The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union, The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, and Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy.

Our moderator for today’s discussion is Michael Dobbs.

Dobbs was born and educated in Britain but is now a U.S. citizen. He was a long-time reporter for the Washington Post, covering the collapse of communism as a foreign correspondent. He has written seven books, including One Minute to Midnight on the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was a New York Times bestseller. His latest book, King Richard: Nixon and Watergate—An American Tragedy, will be published in May.

Now let’s hear from Serhii Plokhy and Michael Dobbs. Thank you for joining us today.