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Eastbourne Ashridge Circle|Founded 1947

Lecture Date: October 23, 2023


Speaker: SIR MAX HASTINGS - Illustrated

An analysis, 60 years on, of arguably the greatest crisis faced by the West during the Cold War by a distinguished journalist and military historian.

This 35-day confrontation between the USA and the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1962 is generally considered to have been the closest the two super-powers came to fullscale nuclear conflict in the entire 44-year Cold War.

It escalated to an international crisis when the US deployment of ballistic missiles in NATO countries Turkey and Italy was matched by the similar installation of Soviet nuclear weapons, including bombers, in Cuba – on America’s doorstep. The crisis ended when the two leaders, President John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, pulled back from the brink, after weeks of high-octane tension, when the two sides came to an agreement to dismantle nuclear weapons and their launch facilities in Cuba and Turkey.

Sir Max Hastings – distinguished author, military historian, journalist and broadcaster – will take Ashridge members through the prelude to the crisis and analyse the lessons the West and Soviet Union alike learned from it, including the need for much improved communication facilities at the very top level, a so-called “hot-line.”

Sir Max was editor, then editor-in-chief, of The Daily Telegraph from 1986 to 1995 and of The Evening Standard 1996-2002. He has written 30 books, the latest on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and won many awards. He was knighted for services to journalism in 2002.