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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Jean Daniel, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Jean Daniel is a French journalist and founder of Le Nouvel Observateur. In the interview he mainly recalls the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, from the vantage point of his meetings with President Kennedy and Fidel Castro in October 1963. Kennedy admitted to him his sense of guilt at American colonial attitudes toward Cuba under Batista and its subsequent failure to communicate to the Cuban population its approval of their revolution (i.e. their release from Battista, not the Communist character of the uprising). He recounts Kennedy’s request that he convey two points to Fidel Castro, whom Mr. Daniel was about to interview: that he was not worried about Castro’s Communism, only his alliance with the USSR; and that he wanted to know whether Cuba might be willing to enter into a new settlement with the United States. Mr. Daniel goes on to relate Castro’s comments in response, but notes that he refused to talk about aspects of the crisis. Castro’s remarks indicated that his feelings were not entirely negative toward Kennedy. Mr. Daniel was with the Cuban leader when he heard the news about Kennedy’s assassination, pronouncing it “very bad news.” In Mr. Daniel’s view, the assassination frightened Castro into radicalizing his attitude. He relates the lessons the two leaders learned from the crisis.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Europe Goes Nuclear
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Interview with Jean Daniel, 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

France and England rush to acquire their own nuclear weapons, NATO worries about the threat from the East, and Europe becomes the most nuclear-saturated place on Earth.

British and American scientists worked side by side to build the first nuclear bombs. “There was a strong desire on the British side for that collaboration to continue into peacetime. There was no such desire on the part of the United States,” recalls British diplomat Roger Makins, Lord Sherfield. Britain decided to proceed on its own and in 1952 joined the US and the Soviets in what pundits would call “the nuclear club.” General Charles De Gaulle, president of France, wanted to join the club, too, and not rely on the US for nuclear protection. Prestige was also an issue. In 1960, France exploded its first atomic weapon. Since World War II the Soviet Union had had a superiority in conventional forces in Europe. NATO countered by deploying thousands of nuclear weapons. “They were accepted as being perfectly reasonable weapons to use in a tactical battle in continental Europe,” said Sir Richard Powell of the British Defense Ministry.



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Raw video

Media Type


Soviet Union
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
United States
International relations
Bradlee, Benjamin C.
United States. Central Intelligence Agency
Castro, Fidel, 1926-
Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Cuba -- History -- Invasion, 1961
Batista y Zaldivar, Fulgencio, 1901-1973
Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Nuclear weapons
Szulc, Tad
Paris, France
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Daniel, Jean, 1920- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Jean Daniel, 1986,” 03/25/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Jean Daniel, 1986.” 03/25/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Jean Daniel, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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