Three Nuclear Close Calls


Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200. 
 Navy photographer/public domain
Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200. Navy photographer/public domain

There have been many moments in history when the world came perilously close to a full-scale nuclear war, due to false alarms or miscommunication. One such moment is the only known time that a head of state has activated their nuclear briefcase.

Our listener mail is from Julie and touches on Acadian history and its parallels to Jamaica's Maroon Wars.

Tracy's Research:

  • Norris, Robert and Hans M. Kristensen. "Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945–2010." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. July/August 2010. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2968/066004008
  • John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. "Cuban Missile Crisis." https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/Cuban-Missile-Crisis.aspx
  • Office of the Historian. "The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962." U.S. Department of State. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1961-1968/cuban-missile-crisis
  • Blanton, Thomas et al, eds. " The Underwater Cuban Missile Crisis: Soviet Submarines and the Risk of Nuclear War." The National Security Archive. http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB399/
  • Burr, William and Blanton, Thomas S. "The Submarines of October." National Security Archive. http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB75/
  • Freeman, Colin. "How did one grumpy Russian halt armageddon?" The Telegraph. 5/11/2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/the-man-who-saved-the-world/nuclear-war-true-story/
  • Forden, Geoffrey. "False Alarms in the Nuclear Age." PBS Nova. 11/6/2001. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/nuclear-false-alarms.html
  • Askenov, Pavel. " Stanislav Petrov: The man who may have saved the world." CNN. 9/26/2013. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-24280831
  • PBS Frontline. "A Close Call: The Norweigan Rocket." http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/russia/closecall/
  • Dobbs, Michael. "The Real Story of the 'Football' That Follows the President Everywhere." Smithsonian Magazine. 10/2014. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/real-story-football-follows-president-everywhere-180952779
  • Hoffman, David. "'I Had a Funny Feeling in My Gut.'" Washington Post. 2/10/1999. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/coldwar/shatter021099b.htm

Topics in this Podcast: 20th century, military history, nuclear weapons, Russian history, U.S. history, cold war, show notes