The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

Tuesday 26 October at 8.15pm in the Sheraton Hotel

Talk by Mr Justice Peter Charleton, Supreme Court

Summary – This lecture, including images, sound and video, is about the event which came closest in human history to starting a nuclear war: the secret placement by the Soviet Union of tactical and intermediate range nuclear weapons in Cuba. Those weapons were capable of destroying Chicago, Washington and New York. Their discovery by a U2 surveillance jet and the response of John F. Kennedy and the US administration will be assessed in the lecture. Peter Charleton was then a small boy but he still remembers the sense of horror pervading that time. Among the questions which will be considered during the talk are: Firstly, what actually happened in 1962? – Secondly, how close did we come to disaster, meaning the world? – Thirdly, how was disaster avoided? – Fourthly, could it happen again?

Speaker – Peter Charleton studied History and English in Trinity College Dublin but graduated in law in 1980, becoming a High Court Judge in 2006. He has been a Supreme Court judge since 2014 and he headed the Disclosures Tribunal during 2017-2018. As a barrister, he was best known as a criminal lawyer, prosecuting Catherine Nevin, John Gilligan and Colm Murphy, among many others. He is the co-author of the leading textbook, Charleton & McDermott’s Criminal Law and Evidence (2020) principally written with his friend, the late Paul McDermott. His interest in the dark side of human nature led to his book Lies in a Mirror: An Essay on Evil and Deceit, published in 2006. His interest in history has resulted in the publication of several articles, most recently with Dr Conor Daly on the nature of heroism, focusing on the assassination of Reinhardt Heydrich in Prague in 1942,  https://www.ijsj.ie/editions/2020-edition-01#truth,-patriotism-and-the-heroic-narrative-the-case-of-operation-anthropoid. He has also given lectures on historical topics such as the Iran Hostage Crisis, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3jEKNpffcY. As chairman of the National Archives, he was chosen by the government to give the commemorative oration at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory on the 100th anniversary of the Easter 1916 Rising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-fH2V5M5Rg.

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