Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the by David R. Gibson

By David R. Gibson

In October 1962, the destiny of the area held on the yank reaction to the invention of Soviet nuclear missile websites in Cuba. That reaction used to be educated by way of hours of discussions among John F. Kennedy and his best advisers. What these advisers didn't be aware of was once that President Kennedy was once secretly taping their talks, supplying destiny students with a unprecedented inside of examine high-level political deliberation in a second of obstacle. Talk on the Brink is the 1st booklet to envision those ancient audio recordings from a sociological point of view. It finds how conversational practices and dynamics formed Kennedy's conception of the choices to be had to him, thereby influencing his judgements and finally the result of the situation.

David Gibson appears to be like not only on the positions taken through Kennedy and his advisers yet how these positions have been articulated, challenged, revised, and occasionally neglected. He argues that Kennedy's judgements arose from the intersection of far-off occasions unfolding in Cuba, Moscow, and the excessive seas with the rapid conversational minutia of turn-taking, storytelling, argument, and justification. specifically, Gibson exhibits how Kennedy's team informed and retold specific tales many times, occasionally settling upon a plan of action simply after the main scary outcomes have been passed over or actively suppressed.

Talk on the Brink offers a picture of Kennedy's reaction to the Cuban missile main issue that's sharply at odds with earlier scholarship, and has very important implications for our knowing of determination making, deliberation, social interplay, and old contingency.

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Extra info for Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis

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In fact, in the recording Taylor’s apparent objection (judging from “no but”) is in response to the president’s claim that Soviet bombers would not do “a great ↑deal↓ of damage,” and only afterward does Kennedy make his (unclear) reference to a strike. Because some of the talk here is unintelligible, it is hard to say that this changes our interpretation of what anyone said or why they said it, but there will be other instances in which the relevance and import of a remark is inextricably tied to what, precisely, the previous speaker was saying at the instant it started.

That prerogative has a place in “normal” conversation as well, inasmuch as a storyteller is accorded the privilege to tell the entire story with minimal interference from listeners. Listeners are not necessarily passive, however. 62 All of the work just reviewed pertains to stories about the past, or what we might call afttalk. Stories about the future, or foretalk, differ from afttalk in three ways. First, whereas one person (or a small number of people) may claim “epistemic authority” to tell a story about the past by virtue of having “been there,”63 no one can claim to have seen the future, so claims to epistemic authority are much more tenuous, even if some people believe they can claim possession of a relevant stock of predictive knowledge64—­something I return to in chapter 3.

But eventually a decision had to be made, and Kennedy gave in, only to subsequently sign off on an informal message to Khrushchev that offered a secret concession on the Jupiters in spite of fears that the alliance could unravel as a result. In the conclusion I summarize the theoretical and empirical arguments. Then I discuss the peculiar fact that, at a conference of former ExComm members and academics held twenty-­five years after the crisis, the former were forced to admit that their deliberative process was far from systematic.

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