By Alicia Colletti
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – A mini-course presentation Nov. 25 at Camden County College looked at the CIA’s plans to overthrow or kill Cuban President Fidel Castro and U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s part in all of it.
The presentation, The Spy Who Didn’t Love Me: Double Agents and Betrayals in the Cold War, is part of a mini-course covering the major events in espionage in the last 80 years. The mini-course, I Spy: A History of Espionage Since World War II, is taking place from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Mondays from Nov. 11 to Dec. 9 in Room 210 of Madison Hall. The mini-course focuses on espionage successes and failures; spies, counter spies and double agents; plots and counterplots; crises; fascinating personalities and fictional characters.
Dr. John Pesda, the presenter of the mini-course, began the Nov. 25 session by cracking a joke and engaging his classroom of 42 students. Pesda’s class was mainly lecture with the use of visual aids. He also engaged in conversations with the students about various aspects of the topic. It was obvious the class was comfortable and enjoyed the lecture.
“It’s history but it’s history that happened in my lifetime,” stated Adjunct Katherine Perloff, a student in the class.
The lecture focused largely on Presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight B. Eisenhower and their participation in the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s. Pesda was so comfortable with the information he appeared to lecture from memory.
“I spend weeks preparing and emphasize developing an understanding of the material so I don’t have to rely heavily on notes. It isn’t memorized. I just know the material really well,” the professor stated.
He started by describing Operation Mongoose, the CIA’s plans to overthrow Castro. Pesda then expanded on how the CIA planned on overthrowing Castro, its initial intentions on killing Castro and Kennedy’s part in all of it.
While discussing Kennedy, the class got onto the topic of his sexual scandals, to which one student exclaimed, “It’s a shame they didn’t have (Saturday Night Live) back then …,” causing the rest of the class to explode with laughter. The other students took turns telling anecdotes of things they remembered from this time period.
The mini-course is offered to every student for one credit or it may be taken as an audit.