A myth-shattering exposé of America's nuclear weapons.
Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America's nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved - and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.
Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than 50 years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policy makers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can't be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.
Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America's nuclear age.
©2013 Eric Schlosser (P)2013 Penguin Audio
The story brings together the history, science and military facets of nuclear weapons, by building on an actual Titan ICBM accident.
Having served in the Strategic Air Command and kept B-52s aloft with live nukes, the stories were a revelation - so many accidents and near catastrophes - that one can only conclude we were saved from ourselves.
It is hard to appreciate the overwhelming threat that nuclear weapons posed in the 60s and 70s, and the relief at the end of the cold war.
But then, the weapons haven't gone away...
The story about the incident was excellent and well detailed. The historical background was well researched. The problem was the segway's within the story were too long and in some cases failed to add real value.
I found the stories about the near disastrous accidents very interesting.
No, but I found his reading to be most enjoyable.
Not in its current form.
The writer appears to have gotten lost in some of the Segway's and after a 30-45min departure from the story you often think:
1. What was this storyline again?
2. I am not sure that long a foray added value to the core story.
A 32 year old with a painfully short attention span. Audio books brought me back to reading.
Normally when I think of scary books I think of monsters or serial killers or something along those lines. This book is scary on a whole new level. What it lacks in monsters it makes up for in glitches and close calls that could have literally been hours away from starting a nuclear war. Think about that. A computer glitch could have caused a war. More than once. And I wouldn't be surprised it there were even more that weren't made public. I used to think that government cover ups were just things that over eccentric people ranted about, but clearly I was a lot more naive than I thought I was.
My only criticism is that the timeline skips around a bit, and while I didn't find it too confusing, I did find it annoying. Even with the weird skippy timeline I would recommend it though.
Harry Turtledove fan
It's a miracle that we haven't had an accidental full-scale detonation of a H-bomb.
The author tears apart the myth that the military has the utmost safety standards for building, maintaining, storing and transporting nuclear weapons.
Heck, if I run my business the way the military runs its nuclear program, I would be in jail, for a long time.
The author clearly documents the stumbling way the military went through arming the nation to the teeth with dodgy nuclear weapons with a safety record that was criminally insane. The fact that none of those responsible have been prosecuted clearly shows the military-industrial complex power and reach.
Bureaucracy that refused to adopt higher safety standards, refused proper communication protocols during Korean and Vietnam wars, the battle between military and civilians over who should control nuclear weapons, and the stupidity of Lemay who got branded as a Nazi even though he fought against them... all are laid out bare.
I shudder to think what would have happened if an accidental detonation had happened. Heck, if such a thing had happened after 9/11, the US would be at war with nations that had nothing to do with it.
Nuclear safety is a myth.
Maybe ... it is very confusing that the author goes back and forth in time ... back and forth between stories. This might be a book better read than listened to.
Great story, great narration. The subject of atomic energy/weaponry does require some pretty indepth explanation so at times it can be boresome while leading up to the meat of the matter.
How we haven't managed to blow ourselves to Kingdom Come is a nuclear accident in itself. Drops, planecrashes, fires, it's not like we haven't tried or actually dared a multiple megaton warhead to detonate in our own backyard.
Scary stuff, I couldn't put it down.
Read this book if you're even remotely intrigued by atomic weaponry, their handling and management throughout the course of the cold war.
The narrator was great. It felt like it was both an interesting overview of the the history of Command and Control as well as a compelling story.
A truly compelling audiobook.
History not much known.
Entire book was a real spellbinding story
One setting book
If u like history and suspense get this audio book.
This is a masterful telling of a very complicated and involved story.
The mix of history, technology, and personalities.
Scott Brick is, as always, a great, great reader.
Reads like a thriller. Quite amazing how close we came to nuclear disaster on multiple occasions and those are only the tales from our side. A well told story that interweaves in detail a mishap at an ICBM silo with a history of nuclear weapons safety and close calls. Chilling!
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