Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

Cuban Missile Crisis Event Series

Through October:

Fidel Castro

The School of International Service (SIS) will host four events in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The events are part of a collaborative series coordinated by universities and institutions throughout Washington, D.C. that will run from Tuesday, October 16 to Sunday, October 28 to represent the thirteen days of the crisis. The series will provide several opportunities for students, the general public, and perhaps even policy makers to re-examine assumptions, absorb the significance of new findings and develop appropriate lessons about the missile crisis.


The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy, Kruschev, Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Armageddon Letters is the culmination of more than twenty-five years of research and writing about the Cuban missile crisis. In a half dozen books and in dozens of articles, Blight and Lang have told and re-told the story of humanity’s closest brush with nuclear catastrophe. This time, however, rather than telling the story yet again, they intend to show it! Readers will feel the tension and danger of late October 1962, as they become flies on the wall in Washington, Moscow and Havana. The Armageddon Letters is a time machine for a journey back to the most dangerous moment in human history.

James G. Blight is the CIGI chair in foreign policy development at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and the Department of History, University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Janet M. Lang is a research professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and the Department of History, University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Blight and Lang are the authors of the book, The Armageddon Letters, which now serves as inspiration for their current transmedia project by the same title. View the webpage at

Moderator: Dean James Goldgeier, School of International Service, American University and author of Leadership Style and Soviet Foreign Policy: Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev.

Abramson Family Founders Room
Pizza will be served
12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Please RSVP here.


Blind Over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile Crisis (Foreign Relations and the Presidency)
Book talk with Max Holland and David Barrett

In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, questions persisted about how the potential cataclysm had been allowed to develop. A subsequent congressional investigation focused on what came to be known as the “photo gap”: five weeks during which intelligence-gathering flights over Cuba had been attenuated.

In Blind over Cuba, David M. Barrett and Max Holland challenge the popular perception of the Kennedy administration’s handling of the Soviet Union’s surreptitious deployment of missiles in the Western Hemisphere. Rather than epitomizing it as a masterpiece of crisis management by policy makers and the administration, Barrett and Holland make the case that the affair was, in fact, a close call stemming directly from decisions made in a climate of deep distrust between key administration officials and the intelligence community.

Max Holland is a prize-winning author and editor of Washington Decoded, an online publication.

David M. Barrett is a professor of political science at Villanova University and a specialist on the history of the CIA, especially in the 1960s.

Moderator: Mr. Michael Dobbs, professor and author of One Minute to Midnight, Kennedy, Krushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War.

Abramson Family Founders Room
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Please RSVP here.


The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis

Not just 13 days and not only in October 1962: some of the most dangerous moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis came in November 1962. With US strategic forces still poised at DefCon-2, Deputy Soviet Premier Anastas Mikoyan traveled to Cuba to force Cuban leaders to return bombers and cruise missiles so that the crisis could end peacefully on November 20. This important but neglected period of the crisis is presented by Dr. Svetlana Savranskaya.

Svetlana Savranskaya is a senior scholar at the National Security Archive and a professor in the School of International Service. She is the editor of the just published book by Sergo Mikoyan, The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November.

Moderator: Philip Brenner, Professor and co-author of Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba’s Struggle with the Superpower after the Missile Crisis.

Location: MGC 203/205
5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.


Fifty Years of Revolution: Perspectives on Cuba, the U.S., & the World
Book Talk with Philip Brenner, Robert Pastor, and Ronald Pruessen

In the years since the Cuban Revolution in 1959, eleven men have served as president of the United States, arguably the most powerful nation on earth. Yet none of them has been able to effect any significant change in the stalemate between the United States and Cuba, its closest neighbor not to share a land border.

Fifty Years of Revolution features contributions from an international Who’s Who gallery of leading scholars. The volume adopts a uniquely nonpartisan attitude, a departure from this topic’s generally divisive nature.

Emerging from a series of meetings, conference panels, and lectures, the book coheres more strongly than the typical essay collection. Organized to analyze—not describe—Cuba’s foreign relations, the work examines sanctions, the embargo, regime change, Guantánamo, the exile community, and more.

Drawing from personal experiences as well as recently declassified documents, these essays update, summarize, and explain one of the prickliest political issues in the Western Hemisphere today.

Ronald Pruessen is a Professor of History at the University of Toronto, and editor of Fifty Years of Revolution: Perspectives on Cuba, the United States, and the World.

Philip Brenner is a Professor in the School of International Service, and co-author of a chapter in Fifty Years of Revolution.

Robert Pastor is a Professor in the School of International Service, and co-author of a chapter in Fifty Years of Revolution.

SIS 300
Refreshments will be served
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Please RSVP here.

All events are free and open to all.

The School of International Service is located at the intersection of Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues, NW, Washington, DC 20016.

A campus map is provided here:

Parking is available immediately below the School of International Service Building, and it is free after 5 p.m.

For further information, please contact Kristi-Anne Caisse at