Nuclear fall-out

In 1945, the USSR was an ally of the west in the fight against Nazi Germany. But a mere 17 years later the two sides stood poised to obliterate each other in a nuclear apocalypse. David Reynolds describes how a relationship turned ugly

The USSR showcases its military might at the 1961 annual May Day parade in Red Square, Moscow. (Photo by Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)

This article was first published in the July 2016 issue of BBC History Magazine 

We call it the Cold War, but in October 1962 the world seemed about to incinerate. The Soviet decision to install nuclear missiles in Cuba triggered a crisis with the United States that threatened a global holocaust.

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