President Kennedy confers with advisers during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Tensions are mounting as North Korea rattles its nuclear sabers. A little over 50 years ago, Premier Nikita Khrushchev also rattled nuclear sabers and made a bold attempt to establish a Soviet nuclear arsenal within spitting distance of Miami.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the frostiest chapter of the Cold War and a seminal moment for President John F. Kennedy. The two-week ordeal, which brought the world dangerously close to nuclear war and mutually assured destruction, is the subject of "To the Brink," an exhibit at the Kennedy Library. Perhaps the library might consider an alternate title: "To the Blink." It features secretly recorded White House tapes (authorized by JFK himself) that document the anxious meetings President Kennedy held with his advisers to stare down the Soviet threat. Along with photographs and artifacts, including items from the National Archives, the exhibit plays like a precursor to reality shows, except the stakes are considerably higher than the latest travails of the Kardashians.

Ultimately, Khrushchev blinked first and peace prevailed, but the stakes and brinksmanship couldn't have been any higher. To the Brink: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Boston Exhibit runs through December 1, 2013 and is included with admission to the library.

Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum