James Blight | TruthDig | August 21, 2008
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans.
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard. …
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.
— Bob Dylan, composed in late October 1962
In his riveting new book, “One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War,” Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs shows us why Bob Dylan was right all along. Dylan, as Dobbs reports, was holed up during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 in a Greenwich Village apartment, writing his apocalyptic masterpiece “A Hard Rain’s A-gonna Fall.” Dylan told an interviewer, “People sat around wondering if it was the end, and so did I.” It was that scary, or at least it seemed so at the time, a near miss to nuclear oblivion. Yet in the quarter-century following the crisis, it became the fashion among many memoirists and academics, the members of what was to become a substantial literary cottage industry on the crisis, to try to explain the miss while minimizing, or even ignoring, just how near to catastrophe the world had come during the crisis. Michael Dobbs, marshaling a virtual Everest of evidence from a dizzying array of sources, convincingly reverses the emphasis, by describing the American, Russian and Cuban details of the nearness—some of the evidence never before available—while attributing the miss to a mixture of last-minute caution on the part of the leaders in Washington, Moscow and Havana, along with good luck. This is the Cuban missile crisis up close, and very personal. There is no disputing Dobbs’ conclusion: Bob Dylan, along with much of the rest of the world, was right to be afraid in October 1962. It might all have ended right then and there, via any number of scenarios that, in Dobbs’ reconstruction, seem frighteningly plausible.
Continue reading ‘James Blight on the Cuban Missile Crisis’