THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS:
TO THE BRINK OF NUCLEAR WAR
Introduction ● Task ● Process ● Resources ● Evaluation ● Conclusion
The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest that the world has ever come to a
nuclear war. In this activity, you will become a true historian, examining and
analyzing the facts from during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Your task will be to
write a journal based upon the fourteen days of the crisis using the website
links provided below. From your journal observations and internet research,
you will write an argumentative paper discussing whether or not President
Kennedy made the right decisions during the crisis.
Your task is to research the Cuban Missile Crisis by using the web-based
resources below. You are to complete a day-by-day journal of the events of
the Cuban Missile crisis. After your journal is complete, you are to write an
argumentative essay discussing whether President Kennedy made the right
decisions during the crisis. You may work alone or with a partner.
STEP 1: Use the following sites to research the specific events from each
of the fourteen days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Find day-by-day
accounts from which to create your journal.
Go here to find an in-depth account and analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis as it
occurred during the nerve-wracking days of October 1962.
This site contains the actual letters from Kennedy and Khrushchev, Kennedy's
October 22nd speech, and a copy of a cable communication from the Soviet
Ambassador in America to Khrushchev in the Soviet Union.
From Robert Kennedy and McGeorge Bundy to Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev,
go here to research the key people involved in the crisis. You will find biographical
information for each of the important decision makers.
This area is loaded with great pictures, specs, and details of the planes, missiles, and
launch sites relevant to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Check out the actual
reconnaissance photos seen by Kennedy and his advisors as they decided upon a
course of action during the crisis
Click here to view the day-by-day sequence of events to get a more thorough
understanding of how the crisis unfolded.
STEP 2: Use the provided web sites below (see Resources) to supplement
your journal entries.
STEP 3: Write a 1-page argumentative essay discussing whether or not
President Kennedy made the right decisions during the Cuban Missile
Your paper should also address the following questions:
1. Should President Kennedy have kept the crisis hidden from the American public
for so long? Why or why not? Be sure to explain your answer.
2. Should President Kennedy have listened to his advisors and started an air
attack? What might have been the result of such a decision?
3. Were President Kennedy's demands of Khrushchev reasonable? Why or why
not? In other words, was Kennedy demanding too much or could he have been
stronger and demanded more? Be sure to explain your answer.
Click here to read declassified documents from the crisis.
Click here to listen to audio recordings from the crisis.
Click here to view photographs taken during the crisis.
Click here to view a time line of events from the crisis.
Journal Entries: You should have a journal entry for each of the fourteen days of
the Cuban Missile Crisis. These entries should be written from the point of view of
an eyewitness to the events. Maybe you are a White House desk receptionist or even
Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Be creative. Your entries should incorporate
information gathered from research as well as your own personal insight. You may
either type the journal or create a miniature booklet.
Argumentative Paper: Your paper should be a minimum of one page in length. It
should show evidence of research on the Cuban Missile Crisis (by including specific
dates, events, and people). Your paper should address each of the thought questions
outlined above (see Process). The paper can be typed with 12-point font and 1.5 line
spacing or hand written.
You should now be familiar with the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following
the completion of this activity, you will be able to describe the important details of
the crisis, synthesize a journal based upon the events of the 14 day ordeal, and argue
whether or not President Kennedy made the right decisions during the course of the
Cuban Missile Crisis.