Date of Completion

Fall 12-15-2016

Thesis Advisor(s)

Joel R. Blatt

Honors Major



Diplomatic History | Military History | United States History


The Cuban Missile Crisis may be equated to a dangerous game of chess played between two powerful rival nations, the United States and the Soviet Union. President John F. Kennedy’s closest advisers, including all Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended an air strike to destroy the Cuban missiles. Although Kennedy overruled them, he was nevertheless able to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis through a combination of brilliant intuition and successful diplomacy. The mainstream consensus is that Kennedy’s personality was responsible for ending the crisis amicably. Consequently, Americans can consider the Cuban Missile Crisis as Kennedy’s crisis.

This thesis explores the role of John F. Kennedy’s relationship with his father and elder brother, his experiences in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and the insightful knowledge he acquired through studying the works of noted historical figures and authors. It will explain how these experiences contributed to Kennedy’s interpretation of good leadership and assisted him in the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.