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In October 1962, I was 10 years old, beginning sixth grade at P.S. 79. Like my classmates, I was surprised to hear that we might not have school the following week, because by then, there might not be a school. Or much else left standing. There have been plenty of books and documentaries and a handful of fictional TV shows and films devoted to this crucial moment in history. This post is a review of what I think were the best of the pack.
One of history’s coincidences was the publication earlier in 1962 of Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August,” about great powers stumbling into a disastrous world war no one really wanted. John F. Kennedy liked the Tuchman book and recommended it to his national security chiefs. They read it a few months before the Cuban missile crisis, or as the Russians have always called it, the Caribbean crisis. That book’s title inspired the best (IMHO) of the screen treatments, 1974’s three-hour ABC television film, “The Missiles of October.” It’s almost forgotten today and hard to find online. Why do I think it was the best? We’ll get to that.