AUTHORGibson, David R.
TITLETalk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision During the Cuban Missile Crisis
PUBLISHERPrinceton University Press
CITYPrinceton, NJ

This book addresses the role of conversation in the decision-making process through an analysis of dialogue during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It considers the more than 20 hours of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s ExComm tapes that were recorded during the Cuban Missile Crisis, focusing on the three major decisions Kennedy made: to impose a blockade on Cuba, to not stop and board two Soviet bloc ships that arrived at the blockade, and to publicly accept Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev's first offer (p. 11-12). The author’s premise is that Kennedy's decisions were primarily the outcome of discussions with his advisors. The introductory chapters provide a history and membership of ExComm and how thinking about the future in conjunction with dialogue can influence decisions. The remainder of the book is devoted to analyses of tape segments recorded from October 16 to October 27, 1962. The author concludes that personal perspectives and conversation do not guarantee any particular outcome, but in the absence of other powerful determinants they can assume tremendous and even decisive importance.

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