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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

About this Collection

Perhaps the most critical and dangerous confrontation of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis is chronicled in this collection of more than 15,000 pages of rarely seen documentation from the highest levels of government. Topics include the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs, the U.S. secret war against Castro, the first intelligence reports pointing to the development of Soviet missiles in Cuba, and the highly classified correspondence between Kennedy and Khrushchev.

Research Value of this Collection

Few contemporary events in the area of U.S. foreign policy and international relations have been scrutinized as thoroughly as the Cuban missile crisis. Yet many of the principal accounts and analyses of the crisis, such as Graham Allison's Essence of Decision, were written without the benefit of declassified records. The Archive's document collection will facilitate new, detailed inquiries into the missile crisis by allowing researchers to use for the first time an organized, cataloged, and fully indexed record of the U.S. government's internal decisionmaking process.

By using a single, chronologically ordered collection of records from a variety of government agencies and archival sources, scholars and students can reconstruct the bureaucratic interactions that characterize national security decisionmaking. In some cases, extraordinary documents like the full transcripts of secretly tape-recorded ExComm meetings offer a rarely equalled Portrait of "crisis management." The integration of available documentation in one place also will allow researchers to go beyond the actual intellectual interactions which took place during the crisis, by sifting through information that may not have been available to individual decisionrnakers during the crisis.

Scholars will also find the collection useful for the study of many areas beyond crisis decisionmaking. The several hundred pages of newly released materials on "Operation Mongoose," for example, provide a far more detailed account of the Kennedy administration's "secret" war against Fidel Castro than has hitherto been available. The collection will also be of interest to regional studies scholars, particularly those interested in the Kennedy administration's efforts to persuade Latin American nations to support U.S. policy against Cuba. Researchers interested in other areas, such as U.S. nuclear policy, the Kennedy presidency, the performance of the U.S. intelligence community, international law, the role of supranational organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and the relationship between political and military operations will also find the collection a rich source of declassified documentation.