Reanimated History: Mutually Assured Ruination

Apr 01 2018

In this episode, Adam drops a truth bomb on the history of the Cold War, and the only fallout is knowledge about the Cuban Missile Crisis, the overlooked hero of the McCarthy era and who’s really responsible for the Berlin Wall coming down. Here are his sources.


“Yep! In fact, Kennedy’s advisors later realized how provocative their actions were.”

Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein. We All Lost the Cold War. Princeton University Press, 1994.

“Hardly! In 1960 the US had over 18,000 nuclear weapons while the USSR only had sixteen hundred. That’s more than a 10-to-1 advantage!”

Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen. “Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945-2010.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2010.

“Not really! The blockade actually escalated the crisis! The US had no legal rights to do this so it was technically an act of war.”

Benjamin Schwarz. “The Real Cuban Missile Crisis.” The Atlantic, January/February 2013.

“Okay, hear me out: Let’s invade Cuba again! Sure it might result in nuclear annihilation, but we’ve got a bunker. All of us will be fine!”

McGeorge Bundy and James G. Blight, “October 27, 1962: Transcripts of the Meetings of the ExComm.” International Security 12.3 (1987-88).

“Bobby Kennedy brokered a secret deal with the USSR and it would be years before anyone found out!”

Jim Hershberg. “Anatomy of a Controversy: Anatoly F. Dobrynin’s Meeting With Robert F. Kennedy, Saturday, 27 October 1962.” The Cold War International History Project Bulletin 5 (1995).

“For years Congress observed an unwritten rule: the “widow’s mandate”. If a congressman died mid- term, his wife would serve out the rest of the time and then step aside at the next election.”

The Widow and Familial Connections.” Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives. Accessed online.

“She did run and she won. In fact, the Republican from Maine was so popular that she was reelected to Congress three more times and then, in 1948, she ran for Senate and beat her opponent 71-29%!”

First Woman Elected to Both Houses of Congress.” Senate Historical Office, U.S. Senate. Accessed online.

“He had over 30,000 books he deemed subversive removed from American libraries abroad.”

Geoffrey R. Stone. “Free Speech in the Age of McCarthy: A Cautionary Tale.” California Law Review 93.5 (2005).

“He even went after army officers by accusing them of having dinner with communists.”

“Executive Sessions of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on on Government Operations, Volume 4.” Eighty-Third Congress (1953). Accessed online.


“The right to criticize. The right to hold unpopular beliefs. The right to protest. The right of independent thought. The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood.”

Margaret Chase Smith. “Declaration of Conscience.” Congressional Record. Eighty-First Congress, 2d. Session (1950).

“It made no difference. She crushed * her primary opponent 83% to 17%”

“Maine Hands Heavy Victory to Sen. Smith.” Chicago Tribune, 22 June 1954.

“By the late 1980’s, unrest and corruption throughout the Eastern Bloc were making it harder and harder for Communist countries to stay in power.”

Robert W. Strayer. Why Did The Soviet Union Collapse?: Understanding Historical Change. M.E. Sharpe, 1998.

“As the pressure from the East German people continued to grow the authorities tried to make it seem like they were relaxing travel restrictions. But in reality, they were really just making those restrictions more confusing.”

Mary Sarotte. The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall. Basic Books, 2014.

“Later in the day, Schabowski did a private interview with Tom Brokaw and continued to be so vague that Brokaw was forced to fill in the gaps.”

Mary Sarotte. The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall. Basic Books, 2014.

“There was so much confusion that when the guards called their superiors for clarification they got no answer!”

“How a blunder finished off the Wall.” BBC News, 8 November 2009. Accessed online.

“Over the next 72 hours as many as three million people went through!”

Mary Sarotte. The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall. Basic Books, 2014.

“Wait! I haven’t even told you about how one of the first things the East German emigres did when they got to the west was buy crates full of bananas!”

Thomas Adam and Will Kaufman. Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. ABC-CLIO, 2005.

“Mandela disguised himself as a chauffeur so he could drive around the country organizing without raising suspicion.”

Nelson Mandela. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Little, Brown, 1994.

“At the time, it was the policy of American intelligence agencies to support the Apartheid Government. And it was Donald Rickard, an undercover CIA agent working in the US Embassy in South Africa, who supplied the tip that helped the police get Mandela.”

Ivan Fallon. “CIA admits: We sent Mandela to jail.” The Sunday Times, 15 May 2016.

“Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way!”

“South Africa’s New Era; Transcript of Mandela’s Speech at Cape Town City Hall: ‘Africa is Ours!’” New York Times, 12 February 1990. Accessed Online.

“President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time.”

George W. Bush, quoted in: Scott Neuman. “World Reflects on the Life of Nelson Mandela.” NPR, 5 December 2013. Accessed online.

“Which is completely insane! Apparently he forgot the role HIS OWN COUNTRY played in Mandela’s capture! OR the fact that the U.S. didn’t take Mandela off the terrorist watch list until 2008!”

Caitlin Dewey. “Why Nelson Mandela was on a terrorism watch list in 2008.” Washington Post, 7 December 2013.