Addressing themselves to the October, 1962, phase of the Cuban problem, the authors endeavor to unfold the confused events. They report that Khrushchev seemed intent on a trip to the United States to resolve the Berlin issue. At the U. N. “advocates of a deal felt that it would be easier for Kennedy to Bell out West Berlin.” Meanwhile, the wily Russian secretly strengthened his hand by pouring military equipment and missiles into Cuba. Daniel and Hubbell mention the warnings which this action evoked, and they include the official denials of an enemy buildup. The authors explain well the deadly seriousness of the Soviet threat in Cuba: falling behind in ICBMs, the Russians intended to narrow the gap with IRBMs strategically positioned in the Western Hemisphere.
Once the extent of the peril became clear, the president’s anger is told movingly. Robert Kennedy emerges as the major opponent of a military solution, while Adlai Stevenson is absolved, and Senator Fulbright is presented as an actionist. Regardless of the shifts in position taken by his advisors, the president, of course, ultimately was responsible for policy. He led from the tremendous strength of a fully alerted military establishment, the mobilization of Latin American support, and unity of the NATO partners.
The authors unfortunately have nothing to contribute to the information already available to any assiduous reader. They have no explanation for the slowness of the administration in recognizing danger, but they lodge the blame in the White House rather than with intelligence reporting. They praise the performance of the armed forces, for, indeed, Cuba was a valuable exercise, but they have no elaboration for the assertion that already, on 26 September, General LeMay ordered the Tactical Air Command to be ready for action by 20 October. They raise many questions but answer none. The narrative builds nicely to a climax of the mighty “good guy” getting the drop on the villain and staring him down. But then the crisis is portrayed as generating false hopes of liberation inside Cuba.
The title is taken from the eighth century advice of the Chinese Tu Yu to “make a noise in the East, and strike in the West.” Tu Yu was commenting on the pioneer 500 B.C. military treatise of Sun Tzu, but Daniel and Hubbell never make clear the connection between their cute title and the contents of their volume. The authors have written an interesting book, but it has no more weight than a morning newspaper. Far from being “a brilliant reconstruction of one of the central events of our time,” as the flyleaf proclaims, this is but an entertaining pedestrian account.