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In 1942, Hitler’s Nazi regime trained eight operatives for a mission to infiltrate America and do devastating damage to its infrastructure. It was a plot that proved historically remarkable for two reasons: the surprising extent of its success and the astounding nature of its failure. Soon after two U-Boats packed with explosives arrived on America’s shores–one on Long Island, one in Florida—it became clear that the incompetence of the eight saboteurs was matched only by that of American authorities. In fact, had one of the saboteurs not tipped them off, the FBI might never have caught the plot’s perpetrators—though a dozen witnesses saw a submarine moored on Long Island.

As told by Michael Dobbs, the story of the botched mission and a subsequent trial by military tribunal, resulting in the swift execution of six saboteurs, offers great insight into the tenor of the country—and the state of American intelligence—during World War II and becomes what is perhaps a cautionary tale for our times.

In October 1962, at the height of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union appeared to be sliding inexorably toward a nuclear conflict over the placement of missiles in Cuba. Veteran reporter Michael Dobbs has pored over previously untapped American, Soviet, and Cuban sources to produce the most authoritative book yet on the Cuban missile crisis. In his hour-by-hour chronicle of those near-fatal days, Dobbs reveals some startling new incidents that illustrate how close we came to Armageddon.

Here, for the first time, are gripping accounts of Khrushchev’s plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo; the accidental overflight of the Soviet Union by an American spy plane; the movement of Soviet nuclear warheads around Cuba during the tensest days of the crisis; the activities of CIA agents inside Cuba; and the crash landing of an American F-106 jet with a live nuclear weapon on board.

Dobbs takes us inside the White House and the Kremlin as Kennedy and Khrushchev—rational, intelligent men separated by an ocean of ideological suspicion—agonize over the possibility of war. He shows how these two leaders recognized the terrifying realities of the nuclear age while Castro—never swayed by conventional political considerations—demonstrated the messianic ambition of a man selected by history for a unique mission. As the story unfolds, Dobbs brings us onto the decks of American ships patrolling Cuba; inside sweltering Soviet submarines and missile units as they ready their warheads; and onto the streets of Miami, where anti-Castro exiles plot the dictator’s overthrow.

Based on exhaustive new research and told in breathtaking prose, here is a riveting account of history’s most dangerous hours, full of lessons for our time.

“One of the great stories of our time… a wonderful anecdotal history of a great drama.”

“ ranks very high among the plethora of books about the fall of the Soviet Union and the death throes of Communism. It is possibly the most vividly written of the lot.”

— Adam B. Ulam, Washington Post Book World

As correspondent in Moscow, Warsaw, and Yugoslavia in the final decade of the Soviet empire, Michael Dobbs had a ringside seat to the extraordinary events that led to the unraveling of the Bolshevik Revolution. From Tito’s funeral to the birth of Solidarity in the Gdańsk shipyard, from the tragedy of Tiananmen Square to Boris Yeltsin standing on a tank in the center of Moscow, Dobbs saw it all.

The fall of communism was one of the great human dramas of our century, as great a drama as the original Bolshevik revolution. Dobbs met almost all of the principal actors, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Václav Havel, and Andrei Sakharov. With a sweeping command of the subject and the passion and verve of an eyewitness, he paints an unforgettable portrait of the decade in which the familiar and seemingly petrified Cold War world—the world of Checkpoint Charlie and Dr. Strangelove—vanished forever.

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