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

  • Lee Jin-man/Reuters

    A World Transfixed by Screens

    The continued massive growth of connected mobile devices is shaping not only how we communicate with each other, but how we look, behave, and experience the world around us.

  • Robert MacFarlane/AP

    Photos of the Week: 4/11-4/17

    This week, we have images of a visit to Coachella, raging fires in Siberia, Yazidi New Year celebrations, a burning Boeoegg in Zurich, the World Pole Dance Championships in Beijing, a gyrocopter on the the lawn of the U.S. Capitol, the Paris Marathon, a robot from the new Star Wars movie, bubbles in Egypt, and much more.

  • Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    The Cherished Empty Bedrooms of the Sewol Ferry Victims

    Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of the sinking of the ferry Sewol off the coast of South Korea, and the loss of more than 300 people, including 250 students. Some of the families of those students have kept their children’s bedrooms intact to remember and honor their loved ones.

  • Reuters

    And Then There Was One

    Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface so-called "nail houses."

Join the Discussion