A Soviet View of the Missile Crisis

Sergei Khrushchev

There's a scene in the movie Thirteen Days when the actor playing Bobby Kennedy shouts, "No! No! No! There’s more than one option here."

The film isn’t perfect, but it really does capture a sense of the tension and drama of the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguably the closest we have come to ending human civilization.

The noted historian Ernest R. May agreed: "Thirteen Days is not a substitute for history. No one should see the movie expecting to learn exactly what happened. But the film comes close enough to truth that I will not be unhappy if it is both a big success now and a video store staple for years to come, with youths in America and around the world getting from it their first impressions of what was probably the greatest international crisis in all of human experience."

The Cuban Missile Crisis is a critical moment in history that raises some key questions. How did it come to that point? And how did we avoid destroying ourselves? How can we avoid nuclear war?

These are questions for all of us, but there is an opportunity to think about them carefully in high school classrooms.

With that in mind The Choices Program produced curriculum resources for high school students on The Cuban Missile Crisis. The resources include printed curriculum materials that culminate in students reviewing primary sources and then recreating the debate in the ExComm about the U.S. response. They’ll see and advocate for the other options Bobby Kennedy was shouting for.

The resources also include a series of videos with Sergei Khrushchev, as well as Jim Blight and janet Lang, whose groundbreaking work has made important contributions to what we know about how dangerous the crisis really was.