Almost everyone has heard of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and how the Kennedy Administration was able to defuse a situation that could have led to a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. By contrast, almost no one knows about an equally dangerous crisis (a more dangerous crisis according to some) that occurred in the fall of 1983. While the Cuban Missile Crisis played out in public, with President Kennedy addressing the nation and the United States making its case before the United Nations Security Council, no such public displays took place in 1983. In fact, the basic facts of the ’83 crisis were classified until about 2015. One of the most important records of the crisis—Lieutenant General Leonard Perroots’ Defense Intelligence Agency end of tour report—wasn’t declassified until February 2021.
Having been a participant in the first of the three crises that took place in the fall of 1983, I thought about writing about my experiences over the years. It was not until the publication of Nate Jones’ non-fiction book Able Archer 83 in 2015, however, did it seem realistic to contemplate writing about the events. Two additional non-fiction books were released on the crisis in 2018.
After those releases, I was encouraged by friends to write a novel based on the actual events. Thus, The Able Archers was born. My thought is that a dramatization of that fraught autumn of 1983 may appeal to a larger, more diverse audience than the non-fiction books on the topic attracted. It’s a story that more people ought to know about, since it is a cautionary tale about the danger of nuclear weapons—a topic as relevant today as it was in 1983.