Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The reading file

The reading file: the Cuban missile crisis and Keith Olbermann

A riveting tale from the new book One Minute to Midnight, excerpted in the current Vanity Fair, relives in chilling detail a never-before-understood incident from the Cuban missile crisis, one that happened near the North Pole. Even as the Cuban crisis unfolded, flights of U-2 spy planes continued from Alaska, seeking evidence of Soviet nuclear tests. Capt. Charles Maultsby got lost on one of them, as the aurora borealis dazzled him and kept him from getting good star readings to guide his way by sextant and map (yes, that's how they navigated). He ended up over Soviet air space where MiGs scrambled in hopes of shooting him down. But though the U-2 was slow, it could fly at 70,000 feet, above the ceiling of the MiGs … until his fuel ran low and he was still lost. He cut power to save what little fuel he had, but when he did so his pressure suit automatically inflated — he then looked like the Michelin man — to keep his blood from boiling in the thin-to-nonexistent atmosphere. This popped his helmet high on his head, his visor fogged and he couldn't see. He had to lick the inside of the visor to peer at his gauges and finally saw the faint glow of the sunrise to guide him east as he glided without power for an hour toward home. His plane belly-flopped on an emergency runway after being escorted by U.S. fighters that, during the Cuban crisis, had traded their conventional air-to-air weapons for nuclear ones. In other words, had they fired to protect the U-2, it would have meant going nuclear. Ironically, the captain set a record for the longest-ever U-2 flight. The National Security Archive at George Washington University also has some details, including charts and maps and summaries, to accompany summaries of the book One Minute to Midnight by reporter Michael Dobbs. Go to www.gwu.edu and search for "Missing Over the Soviet Union" for online enhancements of maps and much more new detail about the missile crisis itself.

In "The Angry Man," the New Yorker wonders if MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is changing TV news. The liberal foil to Fox's Bill O'Reilly, Olbermann can actually look out his office window and see the Fox studios across the way in Manhattan. The article traces the origins of Olbermann's acerbic, mocking style and wonders if we're increasingly self-selecting what we view by choosing to watch people whose opinions match our own. The piece by Peter J. Boyer is well worth reading to discover how a sarcastic sportscaster became a liberal news darling — and why Olbermann hates to fly and why he loses depth perception at speeds over 15 mph. Go to newyorker.com and search for "Keith Olbermann."

The reading file: the Cuban missile crisis and Keith Olbermann 06/28/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 2, 2008 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. UF denies white supremacist Richard Spencer's request to speak on campus

    College

    Citing serious safety concerns, the University of Florida has denied Richard Spencer's application to speak on campus next month.

  2. MoviePass now offers unlimited movie watching in theaters for $10 a month, here's what you need to know

    Blogs

    There's now a service that says it will let you watch as many movies as you want for one monthly price: MoviePass. 

    MoviePass will let customers see up to one movie, every day, for $10 a month.
  3. Former Florida prison guards in KKK convicted of plotting to kill a black inmate

    Criminal

    Two former prison guards in Florida who were members of the Ku Klux Klan have been convicted of plotting to kill a black inmate in retaliation for a scuffle with another guard who also belonged to the hate group.

    A jury in Columbia County found David Elliot Moran, left, and Charles Thomas Newcomb guilty of conspiracy to commit first degree murder after they were caught discussing their plans to kill a black inmate in retaliation for a scuffle with another guard who, like them, belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. [Alachua County Jail via AP (2015)]
  4. Jameis Winston's subtle but strong moment of leadership displayed on 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    Quarterback Jameis Winston went to each teammate in the locker room prior to the Bucs' preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati with one message: 'I got your back.'

    Then he proved it.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston throws during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday in Cincinnati. [AP photo]
  5. Daniel Ruth: Duck & Cover? Fix a drink, instead, if a nuclear bomb ever threatens

    Columns

    I am a child of the "Duck & Cover" generation.

    Threats of thermonuclear attack bring to mind the safety advice that school children received during the Cold War, driven in part by an arms race that included the first test of a hydrogen bomb. "Ivy Mike," pictured here, was  set off in 1952 on the Enewetak atoll in the Pacific Ocean. [Los Alamos National Laboratory via The New York Times]