Hot Spell in The Cold War

THE CRISIS YEARS

by Michael R. Beschloss

HarperCollins; 816 pages; $29.95

As Mikhail Gorbachev panhandles the U.S. and McDonald's draws longer lines in Moscow than Lenin's tomb, it is difficult to believe that less than three decades ago, Washington and Moscow were on the steely edge of war. The drama and tension of those years are vividly recaptured in Michael Beschloss's The Crisis Years. But this is no simple rehash of John Kennedy's sparring with Nikita Khrushchev. Beschloss casts new light on topics ranging from the Cuban missile crisis to the security risks of J.F.K.'s sexual dalliances.

Kennedy was still shaken...

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