So close was the world to a nuclear holocaust during the Cuban Missile Crisis that Robert McNamara, then Secretary of Defense, is reported to have said that on a Saturday night in the midst of the crisis, he looked out a White House window wondering if he’d every see another Saturday night. On the 50th anniversary of the crisis, PBS offers two new specials tonight, Tuesday, October 23, that allow you and students to explore this high drama that has rich potential for interdisciplinary study of history and its compelling themes
At 8pm WGBY, will air the first major feature documentary on the subject, Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go to War. The film brings to life the three central characters — Kennedy, Castro and Khrushchev — and how the world’s most powerful men fell into an abyss of their own making, outlining the courage and luck it took to climb out again. Then at 9pm Secrets of the Dead: The Man Who Saved the World tells the little-known story of a Soviet officer who refused to fire a nuclear torpedo during the Cuban Missile Crisis. While politicians desperately sought a solution to the stand-off, Vasili Arkhipov refused to fire a nuclear torpedo, thus averting disaster.
You can watch a preview of The Man Who Saved the World and learn more about the episode and search for additional PBS resources on the Cuban Missile Crisis from PBS NewsHour, History Detectives and more.