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The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

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Small Island, Big Shadow

Fifty years ago this week, a U.S. military jet photographed strategic nuclear missiles that had been installed by the Soviets in Cuba. Over the next 13 days, the world watched with white knuckles, wondering if the Cold War was about to turn very, very hot.

In this episode, we consider the outsized influence that Cuba has had throughout American history. Over the course of the hour, the History Guys consider several major episodes in US-Cuba relations, including the filibustering expeditions of the 19th century, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. In each case, they learn that the episode’s standard storyline gets a whole lot more interesting if you dial its starting point back in time.