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Author, Deborah Wiles, talks about Countdown

Cuban Missile Crisis

United States
Soviet Union

Duck and Cover Historical Video

from Internet Archive located at http://archive.org/details/DuckandC1951


The following links have been evaluated to determine the reliability of the site. However, as with any web site, there will be more links that will open a new website with a new URL. These additional links have not been evaluted by Blue Ribbon Lessons so it is the reponsibility of the user to evaluate the web site URL, know who the authority is and check for reliable content. If the links from THIS web site created by Blue Ribbon Lessons do not work, or if you feel they are unreliable, please contact tammy@blueribbonlessons.com.


Countdown is a story that takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Cuban Missile Crisis is one part of The Cold War story. The Cold War began shortly after the end of World War II in the late 1940's and ended in the early 1990's.
This site provides information about the Cold War as reported by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) from the 1950's until the 1990's. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/themes/world_politics/cold_war/default.stm
The NSA (National Security Agency) and CSS (Central Security Service) site provides brochures that give some details to events of the Cold War. http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/center_crypt_history/publications/coldwar.shtml


John F. Kennedy (U. S. President) and Nikita Khruchchev (First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) met in Vienna in May of 1961.

WEEK 1: Read chapters 1-6

Chapter 1

Naturally chapter one will introduce us to our main character. Something that will probably not be familiar to you is the term "fallout shelter." Fallout shelters were a designated place for people to go in the case of a nuclear attack. Many schools were used as fallout shelters. Here is a picture of a school built totally underground in 1962. Ironically, this is the same year that the story of Countdown takes place. http://ludb.clui.org/ex/i/NM3184/

Fallout shelters had supplies such as food and medicine. Here is a picture used during the time period that demonstrates they types of items contained in a public fallout shelter. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/fallout-docs/images/survival-supplies.gif

In addition, it was encouraged that each home have a fallout shelter stocked with supplies. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/fallout-docs/images/shelter-photo.gif

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Many buildings in the town of Pisa, Italy lean. This just happens to be the most famous.


Isthmus of Panama = An isthmus is a narrow strip of land, bordered by water on both sides, that connects two larger bodies of land. What is the name of the canal that was built through the isthmus of Panama in order to shorten the travel time/distance for ships wanting to travel from the east coast of the Americas to the west coast?

Conga Drum

The Conga Drum is a product of the slave trade in that people from Africa, who were captured and taken to Cuba to be slaves, brought the knowledge of how to make and play the Conga to Cuba with them.

You are probably wondering what the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the isthmus of Panama and a conga drum have to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis and fallout shelters. These are items mentioned in the story because life did continue in an almost normal fashion during those 13 days. Students still had school and still learned about the world around them.


Chapter 2

Harry S. Truman, 33 President of the US (1945-1953)

President Truman made the decision to drop nuclear weapons on Japan in order to end the war with Japan during WWII.

Biography from whitehouse.gov

United Nations

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (32 U.S. President) was the first to use the name "United Nations" on January 1, 1942 during WWII. The United Nations was formally founded Oct. 24,1945 shortly after WWII by 51 countries. The UN currently has 192 member states and works to create and maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations, and to promote better standards of living.

http://www.un.org/aboutun/unhistory/ (Read the UN history)

http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/index.shtml (Purpose of the UN)


After WWII the country of Germany was divided in half becoming East Germany and West Germany. The capital, Berlin, was also divided into 4 sectors, each controlled by France, Great Britain, United States, and the Soviet Union. The Berlin Wall was eventually built in an effort to keep the people of East Berlin (the Soviet Union Sector) from moving to West Berlin.

Berlin Airlift History http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/airlift.html

Additional informtion:

The Atomic Bomb and the End of WWII http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB162/index.htm

Los Alamos National Laboratory where the first atomic bomb was built http://www.lanl.gov/history/overview.shtml

CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) History https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/history-of-the-cia/index.html

The Korean Conflict was part of the Cold War http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/korean-conflict/

Senator Joseph McCarthy believed there were many Communist spies in the United States and many people were falsely accused. The term "McCarthyism" was created and is defined as the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence. http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Communists_In_Government_Service.htm

The Vietnam War is another part of the Cold War http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/vietnam/index.cfm


Chapters 3-4

Pete Seeger

Words to the song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" http://www.theguitarguy.com/wherehav.htm

Woody Guthrie

Pete and Woody traveled all over the United States gathering and recording folk songs. http://www.woodyguthrie.org/

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

"In Flander Fields" poem and Flanders Field American Cemetary and Memorial in Belgium from WWI http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ff_pict.pdf

Additional informtion:

"heavens to Murgatrod" phrase... what does it mean? http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/heavens-to-murgatroyd.html

View several of the Civil Defense pamphlets created during the Cold War http://libwww.freelibrary.org/faq/guides/emergencyprep.cfm?id=11&FAQCategory=77


Chapters 5-6
Captain Francis Gary Powers, Pilot of U2 spy plane

History of the U2 spy plane

CIA "cover story" for spy plane crash

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee


Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall story http://www.newseum.org/berlinwall/


WEEK 2: Read chapters 7-18

Popular TV shows of the early 60's

These links will provide information about the shows. As with following any links, be sure to always evaluate the web site URL, know who the authority is and check for reliable content.

The Flinstones http://www.emmytvlegends.org/blog/?tag=hanna-barbera
Sing Along With Mitch (Miller) http://singalongwithmitch.org/
Route 66 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cbs-broadcasts-the-premiere-episode-of-route-66
Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color October 21, 1962 was part of season 9. What is the title? Isn't that ironic? http://tviv.org/The_Wonderful_World_of_Disney/Season_Nine


Music Mentioned In These Chapters

These links will provide information about the music and lyrics. In some cases you will be able to listen to the music. As with following any links, you should evaluate the web site URL, know who the authority is and check for reliable content.

Stars and Stripes Forever
The first link shows the primary sources and the second allows you to listen to the music. Click MP3 on the left.



Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill http://www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/folkden-wp/?p=7172
Runaway http://www.cosmic-kitchen.com/song.php?id=shannon.del__Runaway


Important Events In 1961 and 1962
President John F. Kennedy's Inaugural address January 20, 1961. A portion of this speech is quoted often. You can listen to it here. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/BqXIEM9F4024ntFl7SVAjA.aspx
The Bay of Pigs was an invasion of Cuba in April of 1961. The invasion failed leaving Fidel Castro in power. Castro then agreed to work with the Soviet Union and allow atomic weapons in his country as a way to protect Cuba from the United States. http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/The-Bay-of-Pigs.aspx
John Glenn was the first American to orbit Earth in the spacecraft, Friendship 7. This happened Feb. 20, 1962.


http://johnglennhome.org/ Scroll down to watch a video called John Glenn's story.


Additional Information
This is a 1968 version of "In Times of Emergency" that provides information on nuclear attacks. Chapter 1 is interesting. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/15158/15158-h/15158-h.htm
Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. is better known as Muhammed Ali. http://kchr.ky.gov/about/gallergreatblack.htm?&pageOrder=4&selectedPic=20


WEEK 3: Read chapters 19-28

Music Mentioned In These Chapters

These links will provide information about the music and lyrics. In some cases you will be able to listen to the music. As with following any links, you should evaluate the web site URL, know who the authority is and check for reliable content.

Air Force Song

lyrics http://infousa.state.gov/life/symbceleb/airforce_song.html
music http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.100010440/default.html

Mambo (dance from Cuba) = This video shows the steps. http://www.ehow.com/video_4395710_examples-mambo-dance-choreography.html
Cha-cha (dance from Cuba) = This video shows the steps. http://www.ballroomdancers.com/Dances/info.asp?sid=28

Chain Gang by Sam Cooke

Biography of Same Cooke with video



Are You Lonesome Tonight by Elvis Presley

Song details http://dmdb.org/cgi-bin/plinfo_view.pl?SYN053602

lyrics http://www.mp3lyrics.org/e/elvis-presley/are-you-lonesome-tonight/diff1-2.html

Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles

Lyrics http://www.cosmic-kitchen.com/song.php?id=charles.ray__HitTheRoadJack


Additional Information
Being a School Safety Patrol was/is quite an honor. See a picture and watch a video from a person that was a School Safety Patrol in Missouri in the 1960's.


Watch, listen to or read President Kennedy's address to the nation concerning the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 22, 1962.



Another interesting perspective on the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/kennedy_cuban_missile_01.shtml


WEEK 4: Read chapters 29-38

Music Mentioned In These Chapters

These links will provide information about the music and lyrics. In some cases you will be able to listen to the music. As with following any links, you should evaluate the web site URL, know who the authority is and check for reliable content.

“In the Hall of the Mountain King”  composed by Edvard Grieg.
Scroll down to play video and read the caption below the video to understand more.
“When the Red, Red robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin’ Along”
Words & Music by Harry Woods, 1926
“Do You Love Me” by the Contours 1962 http://www.chordie.com/chord.pere/www.guitaretab.com/t/the-contours/136788.html
“Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”  by Brian Hyland http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=6099
“Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett http://www.guntheranderson.com/v/data/themonst.htm
“Please Mister Postman” by the Beatles


“Wonderful World (Don’t Know Much)” by Sam Cooke http://www.guntheranderson.com/v/data/wonderf0.htm


Additional Information
On Oct. 28, 1962 Khrushchev broadcasted that the missiles would be removed from Cuba. http://timelines.com/1962/10/28/khruschev-announces-soviet-union-will-remove-missiles-from-cuba-in-radio-moscow-address
Telstar 1 was the first communications satellite.


Kennedy’s Secret Tapes
Listen to an hour and half radio documentary of tapes made of JFK and his administration concerning the Cuban Missle Crisis.  

CNNs special on The Cold War


Meet the author of Countdown, Deborah Wiles.

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