Secrets From the J.F.K. Years

Despite their cliffhanging confrontations, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were faithful pen pals. The Crisis Years (HarperCollins), a new book on the Kennedy Administration by historian Michael Beschloss, discloses the contents of 80 secret messages between the U.S. and Soviet leaders on subjects ranging from the Berlin Wall to Vietnam. In his research, Beschloss discovered why the correspondence came to an abrupt end six weeks before Kennedy's death: because of a bureaucratic misunderstanding, the State Department failed to send a crucial Kennedy response to Khrushchev's peace proposals.

The book, due in June, describes Kennedy's elaborate White House taping system. Secret...

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