Ernest May

Ernest R. May is the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University and a former consultant to the joint chiefs of staff. His books include American Cold War Strategy and Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France.

Recent Articles

Thirteen Days in 145 Minutes

W hen I learned that Thirteen Days , the new movie dramatizing the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, would follow events through the eyes of Kenneth O'Donnell, John F. Kennedy's appointments secretary--who would be played by the movie's headliner, Kevin Costner--I had strong misgivings. In 1997 I had transcribed and edited (with Philip Zelikow of the University of Virginia) some of the tape recordings made secretly by JFK--and nothing in these tapes, in other documents, or in the recollections of Kennedy's key advisers gives O'Donnell an important or even conspicuous role in the crisis. After Harvard University Press published our transcripts as The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis , Beacon Communications bought the movie rights, and the film's director, Roger Donaldson, came to see me in Cambridge. We had a long talk, and afterward someone else at Beacon sent me a copy of the script, written by David Self. "Kenny O'Donnell saves the world" was what I...