Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth

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Belin 1969A lecture by Frederick Kempe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlantic Council.

The Berlin Crisis of 1961 was decisive in shaping the events of the Cold War. For the first time in history, American and Soviet fighting men and tanks stood arrayed against each other, only yards apart. One mistake or an overzealous commander could spring the tripwire for nuclear war. On one side was a young, untested President Kennedy, still reeling from the Bay of Pigs disaster. On the other, Nikita Khrushchev, a Soviet premier hemmed in by the Chinese, the East Germans and hard-liners in his own government. Neither really understood the other, both tried cynically to manipulate events and so, week by week, the dangers grew.

In his lecture, Frederick Kempe will tell the story of the Cold War's most dramatic year, when Berlin became what Khrushchev called 'the most dangerous place on earth'. Frederick will draw on a wealth of new documents and interviews, giving a unique insight of one of the epic dramas of the Cold War and its lessons for today.

Frederick Kempe has been President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Council, an American foreign policy think tank, since 1 December 2006. He is an award-winning journalist, former contributor to The Wall Street Journal, author and a regular media commentator in Europe and the United States. His latest book, Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth, is a New York Times bestseller.

Frederick Kempe will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book, to be published in paperback by Penguin on 7 June 2012, which will be on sale.

An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

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