The possibility of the destruction of mankind was always in his mind. Someone once said that World War Three would be fought with atomic weapons and the next war with sticks and stones.
As mentioned before, Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August had made a great impression on the President. “I am not going to follow a course which will allow anyone to write a comparable book about this time, The Missiles of October,” he said to me that Saturday night, October 26. “If anybody is around to write after this, they are going to understand that we made every effort to find peace and every effort to give our adversary room to move. I am not going to push the Russians an inch beyond what is necessary.”
After it was finished, he made no statement attempting to take credit for himself or for the Administration for what had occurred. He instructed all members of the Ex Comm and government that no interview should be given, no statement made, which would claim any kind of victory. He respected Khrushchev for properly determining what was in his own country’s interest and what was in the interest of mankind. If it was a triumph, it was a triumph for the next generation and not for any particular government or people.
At the outbreak of the First World War the ex-Chancellor of Germany, Prince von Bülow, said to his successor, “How did it all happen?” “Ah, if only we knew,” was the reply.
Robert Kennedy, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, New York, 1969, 127–128