JFK never got to visit his presidential library. But that doesn’t mean he hadn’t given the topic some thought.

What the JFK Library looks like today on its eventual site on Columbia Point. © David Coleman.
This surveillance photo from a low-level surveillance flight over a Soviet military camp at Remedios on October 25, 2962, was one of the first to show one of the four combat regiments in Cuba, including their FROG nuclear-capable battlefield rockets. Department of Defense/JFK Library.

Here’s an excuse worth trying.

JFK meeting with Adlai Stevenson in 1961 in the Oval Office (not the same meeting Stevenson was late for). Photo by Abbie Rowe / JFK Library.

We have so far gotten the missiles out, we think; we’re not sure.

President Kennedy meets with General Curtis LeMay; Colonel Ralph D. Steakley; Lt. Colonel Joe M. O’Grady; Major Richard S. Hoyser. 30 October 1962, 11:30–11:47 AM. This is a different meeting to the one described below. Photo by Abbie Rowe / John F. Kennedy Library.

In a private conversation captured on JFK’s secret White House tapes in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, advisers wonder aloud whether the Soviets might keep nuclear warheads in Cuba.

JFK Meeting with the ExComm in the Cabinet Room on October 29, 1962. To Kennedy’s left is Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gilpatric. Photo by Cecil Stoughton, White House / John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Boston.

In this excerpt from newly published transcripts of JFK’s secret White House tapes, JFK and his advisers discuss the politics of a test ban agreement and the possibility of a new summit meeting with Khrushchev.

When the United States and Soviet Union negotiated arms control in the late-1950s and early-1960s to try to ban or limit nuclear tests in an effort to slow down the arms race, one of the most difficult, recurring sticking points was making sure that each side stuck to the terms…

It’s a popular quote about the Cuban Missile Crisis. But where did it come from?

You don’t hear much about him, but U Thant played a crucial role in the United Nations. As head of the United Nations, be inserted himself into the US-Soviet crisis in an effort to facilitate negotiations for a peaceful resolution. But at the time he was only the acting secretary-general.

U Thant, Adlai Stevenson, and President Kennedy outside UN Headquarters in New York.
U Thant, Adlai Stevenson, and President Kennedy outside UN Headquarters in New York.

The “U” was not his given name, as such…

While much of the world was focused on the Cuban Missile Crisis, half-way around the world two countries, with a combined total of a billion people — or about a third of the world’s population — were at war.

Jawaharlal Nehru

David Coleman

Author of The Fourteenth Day and editor of The Presidential Recordings: John F. Kennedy, vols 4–6. Senior Research Fellow at the National Security Archive.

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