You probably don’t remember the Cuban missile crisis because you probably weren’t there, having only heard about it in classrooms and via the History channel. But for the people that were, it was a terrifying time to live through, and this year marks its 50th anniversary. Specifically, the date of October 28th when JFK decided not to go to war with the Soviets and Cuba, the 13 day crisis ended, and the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.
If you fancy brushing up on a little history but don’t want to hit the books, then take a look at this 25 minute interactive web documentary Clouds Over Cuba, from Brian Williams, Wade Alger, Joe Alexander, and Ben Tricklebank—with Matthew Modine narrating. It covers the whole affair right from Castro’s revolt against the dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 up until October 1962, when the end of the world was looming large.
As the documentary plays, contextualizing what happened, it has sub-documentaries that you can watch, fleshing out other aspects like the role the US’s fear of communism played and the U-2 reconnaissance missions that the US used to scope out the Soviets’ nuclear arsenal. It also lets you collect images, audio files, documents, and video clips into a folder as you go along, so you can revisit them later on.
Along with all that, to strike fear into your heart, it gives an alternate history—a “What If?” scenario featuring interviews with harrowed veterans. And if you want a bit of role play to find out what it may have felt like, you can experience events as they unfolded using the real-time calendar.