- Berlin Wall constructed.
- Bay of Pigs invasion fails. Republican and CIA planning foisted on an unwary Democratic President.
- Joseph Heller publishes Catch-22.
- Robert A. Heinlein publishes Stranger in a Strange Land.
- Arthus C. Clarke publishes A Fall of Mondust.
- Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbits the planet.
- China's population is 658.59 million.
- January 1: Farthing coin no longer legal tender in Britain.
- January 20: John F. Kennedy inaugurated as President of the United States. At age 43 Kennedy is the youngest elected president and the first Roman Catholic. In his inaugural speech he asks: "And so, my fellow Americans ... ask not what your country can do for you ... ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world ... ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
- January 20: Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as the 37th Vice President of the United States.
- January 25: Rightwing miltiary coup d'etat ousts another miltiary juunta in El Salvador.
- February 12: Darwin Day
- March 1: Pres. John F. Kennedy signs a bill creating the Peace Corps.
- March 11: McGeorge Bundy drafts NSAM 31.
- March 13: John F. Kennedy launches the Alliance for Progress.
- March 29: The 23rd Amendment is added to the Constitution.
- April 16: U.S. General Carles P. Cabell decides to check with Dean Rusk about the planned second air raid in the Bay of Pigs invasion. McGeorge Bundy tells Cabell there wil be no further air strikes until they can be launched from the beachhead or can appear to be launched from the beachhead.
- April 17: An American backed Cuban invasion force landed at Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) in Cuba. Kennedy is heavily criticized.
- April 18: McGeorge Bundy tells U.S. President John F. Kennedy that the situation at the Bay of Pigs is bad: "the Cuban armed forces are stronger, the popular response is weaker, and our tactical situation is feebler than we had hoped."
- April 20: JFK delivers Cold War speech to American Society of Newsaper Editors: "We dare not fail to see the insidious nature of this new and deeper struggle. We dare not fail to grasp the new concepts, the new tools, the new sense opf urgency we will need to combat it-whether in Cuba and South Vietnam."
- April 20-26 Abortive French general's coup d'etat in French colonial Algeria.
- May: The Congress of racial Equality (CORE) is established.
- May 9: Robert Kennedy and Georgi Bolshakov meet for the first time in a back channel.
- June 3-4: Pres. John F. Kennedy meets with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna to discuss disarmament, Germany, Laos and nuclear testing. Khrushchev is not impressed with Kennedy.
- June 19: The Supreme Court issues its opinion in Mapp v. Ohio.
- July 2: Ernest Hemingway dies.
- August 4: Future Illinois Senator and perhaps future President of the United States Barack Obama is born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- August 13: Troops from the DDR (East Germany) seal the border between East Berlin and West Berlin with barbed wire fences. Several days later they begin pouring concrete to create the Berlin Wall.
- September 8: Unsuccessful OAS assassination attempt on Charles de Gaulle at Pont-sur-Seine.
- October: New York Yankees win the World Series.
- October 20: Soviet government learns that U.S. military has built an experimental replica section of the Berlin Wall in a secluded part of Berlin.
- October 22: State Department's Allen Lightner stopped by East German police from attending the oepra in East berlin after he refuses to show them identification.
- October 25: U.S. General Lucius Clay places U.S. Army tanks on alert near the sector boundary at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.
- October 28: American and Soviet tanks now point their guns at each other at Checkpoint Charlie.
- October 30: Soviet Union brraks moratorium on nuclear tests by detonating largest thermonuclear device. "Tzar Bomba" is air delivered by a Tu-95 Bear) and explodes over the "Novaya Zemlya" with a yield of 50 Mgt.
- November 1: Women Strike for Peace organize peace marches.