Episode 6: We Are All Mortal

November 1, 2022

After the United States and Soviet Union survived the Cuban Missile Crisis and its immediate aftermath, the next steps for the two superpowers would be critical. This episode looks at Kennedy’s peace speech at American University and the limited test ban treaty negotiated between Khrushchev and Kennedy, that some say saved the world a second time in. It looks ahead at the positive and negative steps made towards Kennedy’s vision of a world with fewer nuclear weapons and what challenges today’s leaders face involving the spread of nuclear weapons.

Featuring interviews with Michael Dobbs, Nina Khrushcheva, Fredrik Logevall, Tim Naftali, Tom Nichols, and Serhii Plokhy.

View the transcript from this episode.

From the JFK Library Archives

View documents and photographs referenced in this episode.

Press Conference, March 21, 1963

Excerpt, Commencement Address at the American University, June 10 1963

World Peace, June 10, 1963

Address to the Nation on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, July 26, 1963

From the JFK Library

JFK Library Forum: The Cuban Missile Crisis and the First Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, October 9, 2012 (via C-SPAN)

JFK Library Forum: The Cold War and the Nuclear Arms Race, October 9, 2012 (via C-SPAN)

Additional Material

Library of Congress: "Daisy" Ad (1964): Preserved from 35mm in the Tony Schwartz Collection, September 7, 1964

LBJ Library: Signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and President Johnson's speech, July 1, 1968

WABC-TV Vault: 'The Day After:' Nuclear-attack TV movie horrifies America in 1983, November 20, 1983

See full source list for this series.


Hosts and producers: Matt Porter and Jamie Richardson

Co-producer: Rick King

Supervisory Producer: Valerie Linson

Research Assistants: Sara Laroussi and Megan McKee

Independent Fact Checker: Ben Schafer

Thank you to The Miller Center at the University of Virginia for providing the White House tapes used in this series.

Thank you to JFK Library archives staff for assistance with researching and digitizing additional material.

Special thank you to Ambassador Caroline Kennedy for permission to use the audio from Jacqueline Kennedy’s 1964 oral history interview.

Podcast Art: Brian Kang

Music: Premium Beat by Shutterstock