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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

In 1963, A Stuttering, Nebbish Magazine Editor Negotiated a Secret Deal Between JFK and Khrushchev, Averting Nuclear War

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As the editor of the Saturday Review for more than thirty years, Norman Cousins had a powerful platform to shape American public debate during the height of the Cold War. Although he was a low-key, nebbish figure, under Cousins's leadership, the magazine was considered one of the most influential in the literary world and his advocacy on nuclear disarmament affect world politics ( his 1945 anti-nuclear essay “Modern Man is Obsolete” was read by over 40 million).
Cousins was respected by both JFK and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev, whom he visited at his vacation home on the Black Sea. As such, he met with both and passed messages between the two, getting involved in several secret citizen diplomacy missions during the height of the Cold War. He even played a major role in getting the Limited Test Ban Treaty signed. He also wrote JFK's famous 1963 American University commencement speech ("not merely peace in our time but peace for all time."

Today’s guest is Allen Pietrobon, author of Norman Cousins: Peacemaker in the Atomic Age
Cousins was much more important than we realize: he may very well have averted nuclear war.
November 03, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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