James Blight and janet Lang

Brown University

Jim Blight is the chair of Foreign Policy Development at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and professor at the University of Waterloo’s Balsillie School of International Affairs. He developed a method of inquiry called critical oral history, which makes use of memories of key decision makers, scholars and their research, and declassified documents to generate new data and interpretations of events. He is the author of a dozen books on the recent history of U.S. foreign policy, including The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis (with janet Lang, Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba’s Struggle with the Superpowers after the Missile Crisis (with Philip Brenner, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), Cuba on the Brink: Castro, the Missile Crisis, and the Soviet Collapse (with David A. Welch, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), Wilson’s Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing and Catastrophe in the 21st Century (with Robert S. McNamara, PublicAffairs, 2001), and Argument Without End: In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy (with Robert S. McNamara and Robert K. Brigham, PublicAffairs, 1999). Blight has also served as a consultant on several documentary film projects with many domestic and foreign broadcast organizations and individual filmmakers. Blight co-produced the 2008 documentary film, Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived.

janet Lang is a research professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. She holds PhDs in both experimental psychology and epidemiology and over the past 15 years has also served as co-director with Professor James G. Blight of critical oral history projects on the Cuban missile crisis, the collapse of U.S.-Soviet détente in the Carter-Brezhnev period, and the American war in Vietnam. She has done work on the method of critical oral history, which makes use of memories of key decision makers, scholars and their research, and declassified documents to generate new data and interpretations of events. She is author or co-author of many articles deriving from these projects, including the seminal piece, “The Burden of Nuclear Responsibility: Reflections on the Critical Oral History of the Cuban Missile Crisis” (with J.G. Blight, in Peace and Conflict, 1995). Professors Lang and Blight co-produced the 2008 documentary film, Virtual JFK: Vietnam if Kennedy Had Lived, and co-authored The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).

VIDEOS
Who are you and what do you do? (James Blight)
Who are you and what do you do? (janet Lang)
What could have happened if the United States had attacked Cuba?
What lessons did Cubans take from the crisis?
How did Americans, Soviets, and Cubans react to the crisis?
How did Khrushchev react to Castro’s letter of October 26?
How did Kennedy react to Khrushchev’s letter of October 26 and 27?
How did Kennedy’s thinking change during the crisis?
How did different national perspectives lead to three names for the crisis?
Why did Cuba align itself with the Soviet Union?
What did Kennedy learn from the Bay of Pigs invasion?
What was the Bay of Pigs invasion and why was it significant?
Why did the U.S. government believe it needed to prevent North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam?
Why are the Geneva Accords important?
Why did you do a critical oral history project on the Vietnam War?
Why is it important for high school students to learn about the Vietnam War?
What advice did General Curtis LeMay give Kennedy?
How close did we come to nuclear war?
What lessons have you learned from critical oral history?
What is the value of bringing former adversaries together?
What is critical oral history?
How did Soviet submarines increase the chance of nuclear war?
In what ways is the Vietnam War relevant today?
What was the significance of the attack at Pleiku in 1965?
How did North Vietnamese perceptions of U.S. intentions affect the war?
What was the Tonkin Gulf Incident?
What was the significance of the 1963 coup that overthrew Ngo Dinh Diem?
What was President Kennedy’s view of U.S. involvement in Vietnam?
How did the conflict begin in South Vietnam?
What is the difference between a hot war and a cold war?
How did the US approach to Vietnam change when Lyndon Baines Johnson became president?
What were the Geneva Accords of 1954?
What were U.S.-Cuban relations like leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis?
How did many Cubans view U.S. influence in Cuba in the 1950s?
Back to top