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Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume VI, Kennedy-Khrushchev Exchanges

  • Charles S. Sampson
General Editor:
  • Glenn W. LaFantasie


Volume VI presents the complete correspondence between President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev. It is important for an understanding of this critical phase in U.S.-Soviet relations that this correspondence be collected and published in one volume rather than being dispersed through six or more volumes of this Foreign Relations subseries where particular issues considered by the leaders are relevant. The exchange of correspondence obviously had its own internal coherence as well as periodically addressing one or another of the ongoing crisis issues between the two nations documented fully elsewhere in the series. The collected correspondence offers in one volume a comprehensive overview of major Cold War problems and possibilities.

This correspondence includes both formal and public exchanges as well as the more informal and very confidential exchanges, transmitted through special emissaries, which became known as the "pen pal" correspondence. The channel was intended to give the two men a chance to exchange ideas in a "purely informal and personal way," as expressed by Chairman Khrushchev in his letter of September 29, 1961. Some of the informal messages were, however, made public immediately, sometimes before the recipient received them, but most of the messages were declassified only in later decades. The editors have indicated in the source footnotes if and when a communication was released to the public if that information was found.