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In January 1959, as Fidel Castro entered Havana in triumph, Americans hailed the revolutionary as a hero. Then came Castro's increasingly anti-American talk, the rise in his regime of the openly Marxist Che Guevara and Raul Castro, and seizures of American-owned assets. In little more than a year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower concluded that Castro must go. In Bay of Pigs, Howard Jones provides a concise, incisive, and dramatic account of the disastrous attempt to overthrow Castro. He deftly examines the train of missteps and self-deceptions that led to the invasion of U.S.-trained exiles at the Bay of Pigs. Ignoring warnings from the ambassador to Cuba, the Eisenhower administration put in motion an operation that proved nearly unstoppable even after the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The CIA and Pentagon, meanwhile, both voiced confidence in the outcome of the invasion, especially after coordinating previous successful coups in Guatemala and Iran. As a vital part of the Cuban effort, the CIA sought to incite a popular insurrection by recruiting the Mafia's help in engineering Castro's assassination on the eve of the invasion. And so the Kennedy administration launched the exile force toward its doom in Cochinos Bay on April 17, 1961. Jones gives a riveting account of the battle - and the confusion in the White House - before moving on to explore its implications. The Bay of Pigs, he writes, set the course of Kennedy's foreign policy. It was a humiliation for the administration that fueled fears of Communist domination and pushed Kennedy toward a hardline cold warrior stance. But at the same time, the failed attack left him deeply skeptical of CIA and military advisers and influenced his later actions during the Cuban missile crisis. Richly researched, vividly written, Bay of Pigs offers an engaging and thoughtful account of the turning point in Kennedy's foreign policy and indeed in foreign policy for decades to come.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780195173833
ISBN-10: 019517383X
Format: Hardback
(240mm x 165mm x 25mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 25-Sep-2008
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War: the failed, American-sponsored attempt to invade Cuba and remove Fidel Castro from power.Fed up with Castro's anti-American rhetoric and alarmed at his growing ties to the Soviet Union, President Eisenhower approved a covert CIA plan to overthrow the Cuban government. By the time the Kennedy administration took office, the CIA had assembled a paramilitary force of Cuban dissidents in Guatemala and contemplated ways, with Mafia assistance, to assassinate the troublesome Cuban dictator. Fearful of the PR hit that would surely come by disbanding the brigade (leaving them free to tell their story), reluctant to appear complacent about Castro's machinations and relying on the advice of his more experienced advisors, JFK went ahead with the plan that ended in the death of 114 and the capture of 1,179 out of the 1,511-man force that stormed the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961. With remarkable efficiency, Jones (History/Univ. of Alabama; Death of a Generation: How the Assassinations of Diem and JFK Prolonged the Vietnam War, 2003, etc.) examines all aspects of the debacle that depended on a series of unlikely contingencies: the killing of Castro, an indigenous insurrection to supplement the invaders and, crucially, air support from the U.S. military. The author apportions blame among the CIA - Allen Dulles and Richard Bissell emerge as the chief villains - the Joint Chiefs who signed off on a military plan for which they bore no responsibility, and the White House, seized by seeming Cold War imperatives and seeking plausible deniability for a scheme that, from the beginning, had little hope of disguising presidential fingerprints. The disaster left Castro more firmly in power than ever, with Kennedy privately fuming and ridiculed on the world stage, and publicly forced to assume responsibility, memorably observing that "victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan."May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Howard Jones

Howard Jones is the author of Mutiny on the Amistad and Death of a Generation. He is University Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama.

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