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
I have read/listened to 4 books on the history nuclear power and weapons. My favourite was The Age of Radiance. Second was Command and Control. Third being Dead Hand. The last being American Prometheus.
I would describe Command and Control as a history of the cold war arms race and the inherent difficulty in managing such a darn dangerous type of weapon. I would recommend this book, along with The Age of Radiance and Dead Hand, to anyone who is interested in this period of political history. Command and Control is told as two stories side by side. The first being the events the lead to the explosion of a nuclear armed rocket in its silo. The second being the mismanagement of nuclear armed weapons. I found the first half of the first unnecessary (missile in silo). The second half of the first story was much more interesting. The second story was great the whole way thru.
I was blown away (pun intended) by all the close calls the U.S. has had with a nuclear disaster! I completely recommend this good book to anyone. It keeps you on your toes and eager to keep listening!
I like the fact that this book told a story about an event that is rarely told. It is also a very detailed account of the history of nuclear weapons the United States as well as the command-and-control authority of the United States government. You never realize how easily a weapon could've been stolen before you read this book.
After reading this book it is amazing we are still here. In your wildest dreams you never could have imagined that the government and military could be so incompetent when it comes to nuclear weapons. An eye opening must read. What aren't we being told today?
I grew up a hundred miles east of Damascus, AR and I can't say how scary it is to read this book and find out that this happen only a few miles away while I slept one autumn night in 1980. I am thankfully I didn't have tons of radioactive fallout rain down on my family's home while we slept. The author is correct in that if it is possible for an accident to happen it will given enough time.
I am 53 years old and my generation did not have to go to war. Too young for Vietnam and too old for the first Iraq Iran war. Although the Cold War was not bloodless, at least we did not destroy each other. This book brought some interesting revelation as to the work my father did as an aeronautical engineer at SAC in the 70s. He died when I was 16, so I couldn't hear the stories from him. it's killing you know how close we came to blowing each other up and how close we still are to thermo nuclear devastation in our world.
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