So many people find history uninteresting. Even worse, there are those who don’t see the importance of learning it. Those people scare me.

It’s so important to keep being educated. Books are one of the ways I continue to expand my understanding of things in the past.

Above and Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America’s Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission (Hachette Book Group, 2018) by Casey Sherman and Michael Tougias kept my attention from the get-go.

This isn’t just about the Cuban missile crisis. It’s about the people involved in that scary time when the the U.S.-Soviet Union were on the brink of nuclear war.

It goes beyond Kennedy and Khrushchev. U-2 pilots Rudy Anderson and Chuck Maultsby’s stories are key to this whole story. I had not heard their names before now.

The authors do an incredible job of character development, which isn’t always easy to do in non-fiction because you can’t be creative. You only have the truth to write. But the words you choose and the manner you convey what’s going on can grab a reader—or not.

They set the scene. Even if you know the outcome (and you should), the book was riveting.

This book delves into nuances around that crisis that I didn’t know. It quotes from private meetings that were recorded by the president.

It made me understand how close we were to war.

And it made me realize, again, how important it is to have someone rational in the White House and ideally the Kremlin as well.

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