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Command and Control Audiobook

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (859 )
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Performance
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  •  
    S. Smail Summerville, SC United States 12-10-13
    S. Smail Summerville, SC United States 12-10-13 Member Since 2013

    34. Married. Cats. Lizards. Disney. Ghostbusters. TMNT. Rifftrax. 20,000 Leagues. Nail polish. Fibro sufferer. Likes bees. A lot.

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    "A different kind of scary"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jared Prosper, TX, United States 02-02-14
    Jared Prosper, TX, United States 02-02-14 Member Since 2010

    Software engineer and avid, lifetime student. I like deep, thoughtful non-fiction, and fiction that compliments and enriches it.

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    "Incredible and true"

    Schlosser tells the story of how the US narrowly avoided a Chernobyl-level catastrophe by sheer luck, but also conveys the history of US nuclear weapons, both the public-side - as well as the messy details officials have struggled to keep quiet. In the midst of these two narratives, this book wrestles with the philosophical viability of command and control heirarchies - where they succeed and where they fail. An engaging and entertaining read that is broadly relevant.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anandasubramanian 11-22-13 Member Since 2009

    Love excellent narrators like Ray Porter. Love the Joe Ledger series.

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    "Chilling !"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Foster Sacrametno, CA 12-15-13
    K. Foster Sacrametno, CA 12-15-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent Reading, Good background, but Disjointed"
    What did you like best about Command and Control? What did you like least?

    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.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    I found the stories about the near disastrous accidents very interesting.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I found his reading to be most enjoyable.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Not in its current form.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ed 05-25-16
    Ed 05-25-16 Member Since 2013
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    "One of the best books I own."

    One of my all time favorites. I've listened to it a dozen times and am always amazed. Just so well done!!!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Grohs 05-25-16
    James Grohs 05-25-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Insightful"

    Though it was getting long toward the end, it was as long as it needed to be and gave great insight into the great difficulty in managing the safety and use of nuclear weapons without any clear agenda, which is refreshing. well written and well read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 03-27-16
    Mark 03-27-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Informative, well researched and thought provoking"

    Narrator did a good job. The audio book contained many topics related to nuclear weapons that most people probably never knew about. I was not disappointed as I am now more informed for listening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 03-23-16
    Jason 03-23-16
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    "a little long"

    Great history of how we've almost blown ourselves up countless times since we first got the bomb. The last two hours were a struggle to get through.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott O. Seydel Manhattan 02-27-16
    Scott O. Seydel Manhattan 02-27-16 Listener Since 2004

    Scott

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    "Nuclear Cold War"

    A complete data rich record of the history of nuclear weapons and the scientists, soldiers, and politicians who've made and managed them over the 50+ years of their lifetime.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    77sevens FL 02-20-16
    77sevens FL 02-20-16 Member Since 2015
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    "they're still out there waiting to be used."

    after listening to this story I went on Google maps earth view to see if I could randomly find missile silos. I found many of them in Wyoming even an old Titan site.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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