Reading any account of the crisis, much less one as accessible and involving as this crafted by Hastings, always provokes a graveyard chill ... This author has always had a talent for drawing vivid characters, and his various sympathies are clear throughout the narrative.
Until recently, the disturbing truth about what actually happened 60 years ago has been hidden in often inaccessible academic studies, leaving the public to shelter in cozy ignorance. Enter Hastings, a rock of probity and good sense. He’s combined his investigative skills with his flair for storytelling to produce the most gripping narrative of the crisis I’ve yet encountered. His story unfolds, as it should, as a frightening but hopelessly addictive narrative of 13 nerve-wracking days when the world teetered above an abyss ... While Hastings accepts that Kennedy’s provocations of Castro and Khrushchev helped to bring this crisis into being, he also acknowledges his brilliance at solving it ... Hastings writes with great confidence and wisdom about events he lived through. As he demonstrates, age and experience are great advantages when writing history. As we grow older, we collect more material and become more astute at analysing it. Supremely self-assured, Hastings writes as he pleases, occasionally straying from his path to follow whims — things he just happens to find interesting. Judgments are delivered adroitly, not with a sledgehammer.