In the selected bibliography attached to this volume there are at least twenty titles on the October crisis published by Western scholars. Meanwhile, Soviet scholars have produced a single work, which is reproduced here, together with Khrushchev’s Report to the Supreme Soviet, December 12, 1962, and excerpts from Khrushchev Remembers concerning the eventful episode. The editor suggests one explanation for such sterility: “it appears that other Soviet scholars are either forbidden to write on this subject or choose not to do so because of its sensitive nature” (p. 153). Cuban specialists find it difficult to accept the authenticity of Khrushchev’s memoirs, at least regarding Cuba. After stating that Soviet leaders had a very fuzzy notion of the Cuban situation when Castro entered Havana, Khrushchev continues: “the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Party had even resigned from the Party in order to join Castro in the hills.” The secretary of the Cuban Party, appointed in 1934, was Blas Roca. He never visited “the hills,” and even less resigned his job. Roca was a member of the Executive Committee of the Komintern until 1943, and later was a watchdog of Soviet interests in the Caribbean, including Central America. Cuban Communists rarely missed a Congress of the Soviet party, they often visited Moscow, and some stayed there for long periods. It is hard to believe that Khrushchev, at least since he was promoted to the top position in the Soviet leadership, could be so misinformed as he appears in the memoirs attributed to him. The three pieces of Soviet thought included here are well analyzed in the extensive annotations by the editor. As happens in most of the literature on the crisis, the Cuban side of the story is the weakest. A Cuban defector who worked for Cuban intelligence until the 1970s, Mariano Vivés, has recently added new touches to the Soviet-Cuban connection during the crisis. Alexei Adzhubei, who is identified here as Khrushchev’s son-in-law and editor of Izvestia also was, according to Vivés, a colonel in the KGB and a member of the Soviet-Cuban Commission for the Exchange of Intelligence. The first supplies for the clandestine operation, always under the KGB’s control, arrived in Cuba on May 17, 1962. The role played by the KGB, not only during this period, seems to have been much more decisive than has been generally appreciated by Western scholars.
Altogether, the Soviet contributions, the ten messages exchanged between the two leaders during the crisis, and the extensive annotations by the editor make this volume a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the first atomic confrontation.