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Video Information and Comprehension Questions

The Cuban Missile Crisis

The following questions appear onscreen in the video. Feel free to integrate them into your lesson plan as needed.

Part I
Questions to consider before watching the video:
  • In the early 1960s the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in the Cold War and a struggle for global supremacy. The Soviets deployed offensive missiles in Cuba, and a showdown ensued. As you watch the program, note the decisions President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev made to avert a nuclear war.
Questions to consider after watching the video:
  • Some historians have questioned President Kennedy's handling of the missile crisis. Discuss the options the president and the executive committee considered in response to Soviet aggression.
  • Debate whether a naval quarantine would have been more effective than a Cuban air strike and invasion.
Suggested activity
Create a glossary of military terms from the program. Try to include a quotation from the documentary for each term contained in your glossary.
Part II
Questions to consider before watching the video:
  • Discuss the inherent dangers involved with conventional weapons.
  • As you watch the program, think about the consequences of Premier Khrushchev's decision to deploy nuclear submarines to Cuba.
  • Consider how the Soviet submarine captains managed to avoid nuclear disaster by exercising restraint and good judgment.
Questions to consider after watching the video:
  • Why do you think Kennedy and Khrushchev might have found negotiating through the media, written communiqués, and speeches unreliable and ineffective?
  • What procedures did the two leaders implement after the conflict to prevent future miscommunications?
Suggested activity
How did Americans live with the threat of nuclear war? Interview one person who was an adult during the Cuban missile crisis. Use the interview to write a social history that shows what life was like during that time.