50 Years Ago: The Cuban Missile Crisis

On October 15, 1962, a group of CIA analysts assigned to review aerial photographs of Cuba identified several newly established Soviet medium-range ballistic missile installations -- bases within 100 miles of the United States. The State Department was notified that night, and President John F. Kennedy was briefed the next morning, setting in motion a crisis that brought the world frighteningly close to nuclear war. The U.S. considered options, deployed troops and weapons to Florida, confronted the Soviets at the UN, and shortly set up a naval blockade of Cuba. For 13 tense days, the crisis deepened and people around the world feared the very real possibility of a new, horrific worldwide conflict. On October 27, the U.S. and Soviets reached a secret agreement, where Kennedy would order the removal of missiles in southern Italy and Turkey, and Khrushchev would remove all missiles in Cuba. Over the following weeks, U.S. forces monitored the departure of 42 missiles aboard eight Soviet ships, and the crisis was averted. Gathered here are a few glimpses from those tense Cold War days, as the world approached, then retreated from, the brink of destruction.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • NASA / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 8/22-8/28

    Hikers on a moonlit night in Mexico, a massive ball pit in Washington, D.C., Usain Bolt taken down by a Segway in China, a squirrel monkey riding a capybara in Japan, and much more.

  • Abd Doumany / AFP / Getty

    Syria’s Children

    Four and a half years of violent conflict have destroyed entire regions of Syria. Caught in the middle of all this horror are the children of Syria, relying on parents who have lost control of their own lives and are now being forced to make difficult choices in desperate circumstances.

  • Jeff Vinnick / Reuters

    20 Years Ago This Week: A Look Back at 1995

    A look back at news images from the last week in August, 1995, two decades ago.

  • Carlos Barria / Reuters

    New Orleans, 10 Years After Katrina

    A decade ago, Hurricane Katrina triggered floods that inundated New Orleans and killed more than 1,800 people as storm waters overwhelmed levees and broke through floodwalls on August 29, 2005.

Join the Discussion