I rest my fiction on a foundation of facts. Often I write a novel because I find a series of facts so intriguing, I have to investigate further. For The Kennedy Endeavor, these are just a few of the more obscure facts (beyond the history of The Cuban Missile Crisis, etc.):
Kennedy gave a speech to the United Nations referring the nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.
OIeg Penkovsky was a real person. It is uncertain whether he was a traitor or patriot to the Soviet Union, but he was executed either in the horrifying manner depicted in this book or by firing squad on 16 May 1963. He might well have been the man who saved the world from nuclear war.
Anastas Mikoyan did represent Khrushchev at JFK’s Funeral. He did talk in the Rotunda with Mrs. Kennedy and she did mention the Endeavor that her husband and Khrushchev had been involved in. Green Berets were flown up from Fort Bragg to be part of the Honor Guard. As a former Green Beret, Kennedy is revered among our ranks because he was the man who made the beret official and he recognized the need for such a unit and highly trained men.
The United States did position a battery of 15 Jupiter Missiles with nuclear warheads in Turkey, well before the Soviets tried to put missiles into Cuba. They were supposedly withdrawn as part of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet General on the ground in Cuba had complete authority to use the tactical nuclear weapons under his command, an almost unheard of granting of powers.
During World War II, Khrushchev’s son, Leonid, was either killed in action as a pilot or executed by Stalin. The records are unclear. Khrushchev’s “Secret” Speech on 25 February 1956 denouncing Stalin turned the Soviet Union on its ear. It’s reported some delegates left the 20th Party Congress and committed suicide.
No one has a complete map of the warren of tunnels underneath New York City and no one knows all of it. The City Hall station is still used as a turnaround for the #6 train, but has not been an active station since the end of World War II.
Mary Meyer (on the right in the photo) was JFK’s mistress and did know Timothy Leary. It’s reported she dropped acid with President Kennedy. A black man was arrested for Mary Meyer’s murder, but his attorney got him acquitted as there was no evidence. The bullet to the heart and bullet to the head is indicative of a professional assassin.
Half Light, painted by Mary Meyer, is in the Smithsonian Archives.
Jesus James Angleton was one of the most intriguing characters of the Cold War. The movie The Good Shepherd starring Matt Damon is loosely based on his life. He was the first one in Mary Meyer’s house searching for her diary after she was killed.
Khrushchev was removed from power the day after Mary Meyer was murdered.
25 November used to be wildly celebrated in New York City as Evacuation Day until Lincoln started Thanksgiving.
In 2009 Contractors accounted for 48% of the Department of Defense workforce in Iraq and 57% in Afghanistan.
The USS Beale incident, where a Soviet captain wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo on the American destroyer harassing his ship, only truly came to light thirty years later. Strangely, though, the 1965 movie, The Bedford Incident, mirrored these events.
My wife was present as a young girl in Berlin and heard Kennedy’s Ich Bin ein Berliner speech. I was in the Bronx, learning duck and cover. The original notes for Kennedy’s autopsy have been lost. The removal of Kennedy’s body from Texas before an autopsy was performed violated Texas law.
Mary Meyer was Mary Meyer. She lived by her own rules until she was murdered.