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When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis Hardcover – Aug 1 2010

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (Aug. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597975176
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597975179
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,089,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Recommended for any military or general library.”—California Bookwatch
(California Bookwatch 2011-02-14)

About the Author

. He lives near Ogden, Utah.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's really good. It makes you think about close this world came to nuclear fire. He does a good job of explaining the missile gap and the bomber gap.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa047b99c) out of 5 stars 25 reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01c0fd8) out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but not groundbreaking Sept. 24 2010
By Amerigo Vespucci - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Angels Wept is the story of a third world war stemming from a later discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba than occurred in our history. It does an excellent job of covering all aspects of the history, from the stories of individuals to the overall attack strategies employed by both sides and the aftereffects of such a war. It is written from the point of view of a historian in the alternate history and employs narrative devices to that effect, though not always to full effect.

The first third of the book covers events as occurred in our history, including the Bay of Pigs invasion, the backgrounds of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and the development of atomic weapons and delivery vehicles before the imagined war. The middle third deals with the war, and this section moves quickly; you get caught up in the flow of events and are kept guessing about what comes next, even if you know a big war is on the horizon. The last third deals with the aftermath of the war and includes fairly extensive notes.

If you're not wholly familiar with the background of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the book does a good job of filling you in on any information you might need to understand the story. The problem is that such a reader isn't likely to pick up this book, in my opinion. It should have been written to appeal to a reader already familiar with the situation and interested in the /alternate/ portion of this alternate history, rather than the /history/ portion of it.

In my case, I came into this book extremely familiar with the history of the Crisis and having even done some alternate history writing on the topic. This book wasn't intended for me. Though the first third contained some nuggets of information new to me, it distracted from the middle third, which was the interesting part. This middle third moves /too/ quickly; instead of talking about the conduct of the war and including more personal narratives (some of the best portions of the story), Swedin explains things at a general level. It doesn't even work from the standpoint of the alternate universe Swedin imagines; If anything, a person living in that universe would be even more familiar with the events that led to the most destructive war in history, and there would be even less call for the extensive background given before the story diverges into the alternate portion of this history. This lack of depth isn't because he lacked the information -- the sources are good ones -- but seems to be a matter of space available between the covers. Again, focusing more on events after the point of departure from our history would have relieved this problem.

The story also leans too much on its sources. Though Swedin picked some very good ones and does a good job citing them (I would have preferred more in-line citations rather than collating them at the end of sections), he seems to draw too heavily on things that occurred in our history for his ahistorical sections. The handful of survivors' stories mentioned are almost identical to those given by survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is little unique flavor, as was given in Brendan DuBois' excellent telling of a Cuban Missile War, Resurrection Day.

This seeming hesitancy to veer too far from the known and into his creative side prevents the story from flourishing. The postwar sections, which could have been much more colorful, instead draw on clinical depictions of radiation sickness and the aftermath of atomic quarantines like that surrounding Chernobyl.

That isn't to say Swedin doesn't have great ideas of his own -- the fact that he casts an alternate version of himself as the author of this history is a good idea, but woefully underutilized. I would have loved to have read more first-person accounts from this alternate author and his exploration of the former Soviet Union, which is sadly glossed over.

I recommend this book if you're a fan of alternate history or if you're familiar with the Cuban Missile Crisis at less than an academic level. Readers more familiar with the history of the crisis are advised to skip the first third and begin directly with the alternate history portions of the story. That's the whole reason I purchased an /alternate/ history, not one written in earnest, and if you can overlook that flaw, you'll enjoy it as I have.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa047a3a8) out of 5 stars A Good First Novel Oct. 1 2010
By Mary Elizabeth Lenaburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was better than I expected and I read a lot of Harry Turtledove and Peter G. Tsouras, as alternate history is one of my favorite genres. I actually found the back story interesting, although I have read both One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Vintage)and DEFCON-2: Standing on the Brink of Nuclear War During the Cuban Missile Crisis. In particular, I thought the author did an excellent job of projecting how Khrushchev would likely have tied together the Cuban situation with Berlin. The author also does an admirable job of integrating the character vignettes with his overall narrative. I rate books by how hard they are to put down, and I read this one in two days. If you like Resurrection Day, which I did, you will like this book.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa005da50) out of 5 stars Great history and great alternate history Nov. 21 2010
By Brian D. Liddicoat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent, well-written book that combines an outstanding and objective history of the events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis combined with an interesting alternate history of a nuclear exchange following attempted US invasion. There's an awful lot of badly-written, poorly-researched alternate history out there. This is worth your hard-earned money. You'll learn a lot about the real Cuban Missile Crisis.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01a7774) out of 5 stars When Angels Wept: A What- if of the Cuban Missile Crisis May 12 2011
By Skip Gibson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book outstanding in every way and it's one of the few "What-If" historical books written that is based on most of the actual things that happened in real life. Having grown up during this time when the Nuclear Sword hung over our heads, the Cuban Missile Crisis was one of the most terrifying things which happened while I was a young person. What scared us at the time wasn't what the News Media told us, so much as what we imagined was happening, and we were not being told about. This book takes into account MUCH of the Information that was Unknown until after the Cold War and is absolutely chilling. I couldn't put this book down and the scholarship and research which was put into it is outstanding. I hope if you are interested, this will certainly give you the "feel" of what it was like to live through at the time, as well as what could have easily happened.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01c2060) out of 5 stars The last third is great Oct. 22 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The person buying this book would probably have a reasonably good knowledge of the actions and events leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Having said that, I found the 1st two thirds of the book rehashing the background of the crisis somewhat tedious.

When the author came to the fictional part of the book describing a possible scenario leading to a general nuclear exchange, it was obvious that he knew his stuff. His command of the facts was obvious and his tale riviting.

I only wish that he would have spent more time describing the exchange from the point of view of the participants.

I feel comfortable suggesting this book to any student of history.