History and Art History

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Experts Take In-Depth Look at Cuban Missile Crisis

by Rashad Mulla

Cwflierweb

On Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, The Cold War Museum, the Department of History and Art History, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences will recognize the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis with a discussion unlike any other.

The half-day conference, “The Cuban Missile Crisis: 50 Years Later,” will take place at Harris Theater on Mason’s Fairfax campus, with check-in beginning at 9:30 a.m. The event will feature expert and firsthand accounts of this period in Cold War history, when the world seemed to be at the threshold of nuclear war.

The distinguished list of speakers includes:

  • Sergei Khrushchev, son of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and author of Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Super Power
  • Dino Brugioni, renowned photographic interpreter, former adviser to President Kennedy, and author of Eyeball to Eyeball
  • Col. Buddy Brown, U.S. Air Force retiree and U-2 pilot with firsthand accounts of high-altitude reconnaissance over Cuba
  • Lt. Cmdr. Tad Riley, U.S. Navy retiree and F8U-1P Crusader pilot with firsthand accounts of low-altitude reconnaissance over Cuba
  • Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight and Washington Post reporter
  • Martin J. Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author on Robert Oppenheimer and history professor at George Mason University
  • Svetlana Savranskaya, author of The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis and National Security Archives Director for Russian Archives and Institutes

John C. Welch, MPA ’95, co-founder and board chair for The Cold War Museum, said there are many lessons to be learned from the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the Mason event will show.

“I believe such study offers lessons that can inform future policy and practice and allow us to learn and grow,” Welch said. “This weekend’s conference will be of great interest to Cold War military veterans (to whom we owe our thanks), people who served in the intelligence community during the Cold War and anyone interested in international relations, national defense, political philosophy, socio-economic theory and the anthropologic study of how people and societies behaved during the Cold War.”

Brian Platt, chair of Mason’s Department of History and Art History, noted the high-level of scholarship made possible by the collaboration of various fountains of knowledge.

“What makes this conference unusual is the fact that it grew out of a partnership between a history department and a museum,” Platt said. “It's surprisingly and regrettably rare for academics and public history institutions to collaborate on this sort of thing. But this conference is a perfect example of what can grow out of such a collaboration: a conference that brings in cutting-edge historical scholarship while also addressing the interests of wider audiences.”

This will be a Cold War conversation like no other, a definitive behind-the-scenes look at the climate that made for some of the most tense moments in history.

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