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October 1962. The Soviet Union has smuggled missiles into Cuba. Kennedy and Khrushchev are in the midst of a military face-off that could lead to nuclear conflagration. The only way for the two leaders to negotiate safely is to open a “back channel” by way of a clandestine emissary.
The fate of the world rests unexpectedly on the shoulders of that emissary, nineteen-year-old Cornell sophomore Margo Jensen. Pursued by the hawks on both sides, and protected by nothing but her own ingenuity and courage, Margo is drawn ever more deeply into the crossfire as the clock ticks toward World War III.
Stephen L. Carter’s gripping novel Back Channel is a brilliant amalgam of fact and fiction—a suspenseful reimagining of the events that became the Cuban Missile Crisis.
And because of what he knew, he was worried. Very worried. Worried enough that he might have to warn the President. But when he reached the Oval Office to discuss tonight’s meeting with GREENHILL, he learned that his concern came too late. III On that same Saturday, for the first time since Borkland and Stilwell interrogated her in Niemeyer’s office, Margo slept late. Or at least stayed in bed. Her limbs were leaden and restless at the same time. The events of the past month had left her
he’d waited to make sure Donald Jensen was blown to bits.” She was on her feet. “Goodbye, Professor Niemeyer.” V Margo didn’t close the door behind her. She didn’t smile at Mrs. Khorozian. Her heels clocked along the hall. She shoved open the doors and burst into the sunshine. She felt unstoppable. Descending the very steps where the fake alum had snapped her photo a million years ago, she felt the future stretching endlessly ahead of her. Until a sudden prickly shiver brought her to a halt.
Soviet or Iron Curtain player. We will not expect you to record the conversations, because there is no time to train you in the use of the proper equipment—and, besides, a microphone is precisely the sort of thing the gorillas will be looking for. You will listen as best you can, and then, when the round begins, you will return to your hotel room and make the best notes you can of what was said. Agatha will take possession of your notes each evening, and that will be the end of your
and I know that he grows skittish and unmanageable when forced to sleep in the same place for more than a few nights running. I know that he is a paranoid, and, in the judgment of some of our wiser psychiatrists, is suffering from schizophrenia. I know the risk we are taking by using him for this mission, my dear. All the more reason that we were fortunate indeed that he insisted on your presence.” It was suddenly too much. Margo wanted none of these accolades. She wanted away from this airless
fold of skin. She said nothing. Most of her didn’t believe him. “There are missiles in Cuba,” Fomin said. “Actual missiles,” he continued, as the world did flip-flops. “They are intermediate-range missiles, type R-12 Dvina. Your military designates this as the SS-4, or the Sandal, the successor to what you previously labeled the SS-3, or the Shyster. Range, about two thousand kilometers. There are also R-14 missiles on the way. Your military calls these the SS-5, or Skean. Range, about four