Above and Beyond: John F. Kennedy and America's Most Dangerous Cold War Spy Mission

PublicAffairs. Apr. 2018. 360p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610398046. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781610398053. HIST
The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was the hottest confrontation of the Cold War, bringing the United States and Soviet Union to a near nuclear war. U-2 planes, which flew at a ten-mile altitude, were the only aircraft that could provide President John F. Kennedy with the intelligence and surveillance photographs to challenge Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's assertion that only defensive missiles were housed in Cuba. Sherman and Tougias (coauthors, The Finest Hours) present an absorbing account of heroic U-2 pilots Rudolph Anderson (1927–63) and Charles Maultsby (1926–98) and their harrowing missions. Steve Heyser, another pilot summed up U-2 training: "Your mind never relaxes. If it does, you're dead." Sadly, this proved prophetic, as Anderson, who flew over Cuba more than any other U-2 pilot, was shot down and killed by a Soviet surface-to-air missile. The most fascinating chapters describe Anderson and Maultsby's lives, training, and assignments, especially Maultsby's catastrophic flight over the Arctic Circle that drifted into Soviet Union air space.
VERDICT Fascinating for general and informed audiences. Historians will appreciate the stories of the pilots and the importance of the U-2 to the American flight program, although they might find the day-to-day retelling of the Missile Crisis familiar.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing