The fiftieth anniversary of the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis is an appropriate time to review the events, which arguably were the closest the world has come to general nuclear war. The crisis was preceded by growing tensions between Moscow and Washington, and increasing Cuba emphasis in U.S. domestic politics. Analysts have differed on motives for trying to place long-range missiles in Cuba; Soviet officials consistently emphasized defense of Cuba. Revelations since the crisis indicate war was even closer than realized at the time. President John F. Kennedy deserves considerable credit for resisting military pressures.