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The Armageddon Letters

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The Armageddon Letters - poster

Washington, DC, October 1, 2012 — The Armageddon Letters – a transmedia project (multiplatform storytelling) launched on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis – takes visitors behind the scenes during the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the most dangerous crisis in recorded history. The project is based at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and is led by the scholars and filmmakers — long-time partners of the National Security Archive — that were involved in the Academy Award-winning documentary, THE FOG OF WAR, and the Golden Palm Award-winning, VIRTUAL JFK.

The Armageddon Letters refers to the unprecedented exchange of letters and other communications between Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro, before, during and after the crisis.

Watch the latest short films from the project, Be Khrushchev:

and Be Castro:

The Armageddon Letters project provides the empirical core of an argument often made by former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara: The indefinite combination of nuclear weapons and human fallibility will result in the destruction of nations, possibly all nations. This leads to the following takeaways for us now, in the 21st century:

*  Nuclear Armageddon is possible. As a matter of historical record – not merely hypothetical scenarios or other projections – it is now known that a catastrophic nuclear war nearly happened in October 1962.

*  Nuclear Armageddon is possible even if no one wants it. In a crisis of this urgency, a series of conscious decisions that would seem unthinkable under normal conditions becomes likely as the pressure to attack first becomes almost too much for leaders to bear.

*  Armageddon must be made impossible. The combination of nuclear weapons and human fallibility will eventually result in nuclear destruction if these weapons are not abolished.

Painstakingly researched and historically significant, The Armageddon Letters is the first major academic project that adopts a transmedia model. The project’s research unfolds on multiple platforms: a book, graphic novels, short films , podcasts (by James Blight and janet Lang), and blogs (by Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro). The Armageddon Letters is counting down to the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis.

Subscribe to, follow, or «like» the project and keep up to date:

Order The Armageddon Letters book directly through Rowman & Littlefield at for a 35% discount. Use promotion code 4M12BEEN at checkout for 35% off – this promotion is valid until December 31, 2012. (This offer excludes eBooks and cannot be combined with any other promo or discount offers.)

What people are saying about the book:

«The portraits of President Kennedy, my father, Soviet Chairman Nikita Khrushchev, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro are intimate, totally believable and instructive. Based on decades of careful research, this is a work of sober history that reads like a horror novel with an almost miraculously lucky outcome. I could not put it down.»

— Sergei N. Khrushchev, Senior Fellow Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, author of many works on the life and career of his father, the former Soviet chairman Nikita S. Khrushchev, including Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower.

«For over a quarter century Jim Blight and janet Lang have earned the gratitude of scholars and the interested public by highlighting and preserving the human dimension of the Cuban missile crisis, the most dangerous moment of the twentieth century. With The Armageddon Letters , they are now brilliantly connecting the IPad generation to Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro and to the lessons of that near nuclear catastrophe.»

— Timothy Naftali, coauthor of «One Hell of a Gamble»: Khrushchev, Castro & Kennedy, 1958-1964.

«Manga meets the Missile Crisis in this compelling book. Through a creative mixture of illustrations, imagined conversations, historical analysis, and the actual letters written by Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro, Jim Blight and janet Lang enable readers to intellectually understand and emotionally feel what happened in the dark days of October 1962.»

— Scott D. Sagan, The Caroline S. G. Munro professor of political science, senior fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Freeman Spogli Institute, Stanford University, and co-author (with Kenneth Waltz) of The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed.

Download an excerpt from the book from our posting.

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These materials are reproduced from with the permission of the National Security Archive.


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