The Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs

Synopsis

In The Bay of Pigs, Howard Jones provides a concise, incisive, and dramatic account of the disastrous attempt to overthrow Castro in April 1961. Drawing on recently declassified CIA documents, Jones deftly examines the train of missteps and self-deceptions that led to the invasion of U.S.-trained exiles at the Bay of Pigs.
Ignoring warnings from the ambassador to Cuba, the Eisenhower administration put in motion an operation that proved nearly unstoppable even after the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The CIA and Pentagon, meanwhile, both voiced confidence in the outcome of the invasion, especially after coordinating previous successful coups in Guatemala and Iran. And so the Kennedy administration launched the exile force toward its doom in Cochinos Bay on April 17, 1961. Jones gives a riveting account of the battle--and the confusion in the White House--before moving on to explore its implications. The Bay of Pigs, he writes, set the course of Kennedy's foreign policy. It was a humiliation for the administration that fueled fears of Communist domination and pushed Kennedy toward a hardline "cold warrior" stance. But at the same time, the failed attack left him deeply skeptical of CIA and military advisers and influenced his later actions during the Cuban missile crisis.

Excerpt

At 6:00 A.M. on April 17, 1961, a lone B-26 roared out of the dim light of the distant western horizon to challenge the Cuban brigade as it hurried to complete a night-time landing at Red Beach in southern Cuba. The pilot, one of Fidel Castro’s best, circled the Barbara J before zeroing in on the huge gunboat with rhythmic blasts of machine-gun fire that disabled two engines and almost sank it on a return assault. But those on board the ship returned the volleys with the steady hammer of BARs and machine guns, hitting the plane on its third pass and sending it down in a fiery crash beyond the dense mangrove trees and into the swamp.

Within minutes, however, three more planes burst onto the scene, including another B-26 that repeatedly missed both the Barbara J and the Houston, and a Sea Fury fighter that rolled and dived while strafing the Houston.

Then came the third and deadliest challenge—a T-33 jet that streaked across the sky, firing a bevy of rockets at the ships, two of them ripping into the stern of the Houston and threatening to send it to the bottom as its men jumped into the shark-infested water. The blazing speed with which the Cuban pilot maneuvered his T-33 around the invasion force made it virtually impossible for the cannon on the heavy landing vessels to hit their mark. The sleek plane’s wave of bombs and rockets somehow missed the Barbara J, but their percussion loosened the plates protecting the hull . . .

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