War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with McGeorge Bundy, 1986 
Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.
McGeorge Bundy was special assistant for national security affairs to U.S. presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1966. In the interview he discusses the beginning of the Kennedy administration, as well as the eventual evolution of U.S. strategic planning. The first half of the interview focuses on the Berlin Crisis, with Mr. Bundy focusing on the actions and reactions of the United States and Soviet Union during that period. He discusses both Kennedy and Khrushchevs motivations, as well as the role nuclear weapons played in the crisis. The second half of the interview focuses on the build up of the U.S. nuclear arsenal under Kennedy, and the strategic planning under McNamara. He compares Kennedys buildup to Eisenhowers projections. He also describes McNamaras shift from massive retaliation, to counterforce, to mutual assured destruction.
- War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
- At the Brink
- Program Number
Interview with McGeorge Bundy, 1986 
- Series Description
The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.
In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989
- Program Description
In October 1962, the Soviet Union and the United States are at the brink of nuclear war, the 13 most harrowing days in the nuclear age.
“I remember leaving the White House at the end of that Saturday and thinking that might well be the last sunset I ever saw,” recalls former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of Black Saturday, the day the Cuban missile crisis pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war. Aleksandr Alexseev, Soviet ambassador to Cuba at the time, recalled, “We and the Cubans decided that, in order to avoid a United States invasion, we should supply Cuba with missiles.” The US effort to overthrow Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs was an expression of President Kennedy’s disbelief about the missiles in Cuba while it surprised Soviet leader Khrushchev according to his speechwriter,Feodor Burlatsky. Major General William Fairborne, speaks about how “We loaded whole blood and a hundred coffins onto the carrier Iwo Jima.” Looking back on those 13 days, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk reflects, “...we’ve got to find some way to inhabit this speck of dust in the universe at the same time.”
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- United States
- Single Integrated Operational Plan
- Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
- Wiesner, Jerome B. (Jerome Bert), 1915-1994
- Minuteman (Missile)
- Intercontinental ballistic missiles
- Ball, Desmond
- Great Britain
- Berlin (Germany)
- Berlin (Germany) -- History-- Crisis, 1961
- Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971
- International relations
- Massive retaliation (Nuclear strategy)
- United States. Air Force. Strategic Air Command
- Soviet Union
- United States. Dept. of Defense
- Mutual assured destruction
- Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
- Nuclear weapons -- Testing
- McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
- Kaysen, Carl
- LeMay, Curtis E.
- Nuclear weapons
- Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
- Counterforce (Nuclear strategy)
- New York City, NY
- War and Conflict
- Global Affairs
- Bundy, McGeorge (Interviewee)
- Publication Information
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with McGeorge Bundy, 1986 ,” 03/20/1986, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed August 22, 2017, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_FADFAD8951D148A498529462A906A366.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with McGeorge Bundy, 1986 .” 03/20/1986. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. August 22, 2017. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_FADFAD8951D148A498529462A906A366>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; At the Brink; Interview with McGeorge Bundy, 1986 . Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_FADFAD8951D148A498529462A906A366