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Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety | [Eric Schlosser]

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

4.4 (628 )
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  •  
    Minderbinder 07-31-14 Member Since 2012

    Milo

    ratings
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    101
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    Performance
    Story
    "Connected the Dots!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Command and Control to be better than the print version?

    Yes. I listended to it straight through between work and sleep!


    What did you like best about this story?

    I worked munitions operations in the Strategic Air Command at a B-52 base. I have toured the Nevada Test Site, Chanute Aerpsoace Museum (with the missile maintenance training silos) and Titan II Missile Museum . I had experienced the day-to-day activitiy but I did not know much about the accidents, politics or contractor. I have a much better understanding of the big picture.


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

    The enlisted airmen!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    The bookcover is even the right color. Well done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 07-09-14
    Matthew 07-09-14
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    "We missed it by; ( ) that much!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I already have. It is a very well written book that was very informative; aka very scary.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Command and Control?

    The climax of the main story that ran through the entire book. I don't want to ruin it for anyone so I'll leave it at that.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    This book was written for his narration. Well, at least it seemed that way. Narration is such a huge part of non-fiction works for me and he hit it out of the park.


    If you could give Command and Control a new subtitle, what would it be?

    I can't write what I'm thinking because you can't show it.


    Any additional comments?

    If you like historical non-fiction and fairly technical books this book is for you. I will be listening to this one again for sure.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JustBill 06-24-14
    JustBill 06-24-14
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    "Mind Blowing Book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    It should bevrequired reading to obtain your drivers license, as its that important to every American, as I am convinced after listening to it twice, these scientists and military officers, are beyond incompetent, and may be responsible for over half of the cancer deaths world wide. Hey Folks, We have lost nuclear weapons out there!!!!!!!!!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The USAF men that gave up their lives in a silo, out in the Plains.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    I believe Scott understands the extreme danger we are in right now, and his material was read and researched to convey the seriousness of the material in this book.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I have never read a book in which I said to myself, "What!" So many times, as it was mind jarring material.


    Any additional comments?

    Why does an American have to read a book to find this out? The Press are not doing their jobs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-14-14
    Amazon Customer SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 06-14-14 Member Since 2012

    Avid marathoner and hi tech market analyst. Lover of Ken Follett, Christopher Moore, Timothy Zahn and any book that pulls me in.

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    "Scared me to the core"

    Wow, fantastic account of our nuclear weapons program to date. But scary as can be in conveying how close we have come to total disaster so many times. The author does a fantastic job of telling the history of the program, the politics behind it and how congress, the culture of the times and budget battles have led us to where we are today. Really fantastic read that I recommend to anyone and everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clayton Bosler Redondo Beach CA USA 02-15-14
    Clayton Bosler Redondo Beach CA USA 02-15-14 Listener Since 2009

    Clay

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding! Must read book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Command and Control to be better than the print version?

    No. It is just the version that I had time to "read".


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    This is a really well written and compelling story about one of the most important, but under-appreciated issues of our time. By setting the whole story against the back drop of the Damascus Accident, Schlosser turns the story of command and control of nuclear weapons into a real page turner! I've spent most of my life involved in one way or another with these issues, and I believe that Schlosser nails it, and points to the flaws that persist to this day, and threaten our very existence. Highly recommended.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa PALM SPRINGS, CA, United States 01-20-14
    Teresa PALM SPRINGS, CA, United States 01-20-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Keystone Cops manage our nuclear arsenal"

    How can anyone trust our government to tell the truth or to manage affairs competently after listening this? It's just a matter of time before we also have "the illusion of health care" and "the illusion of education."
    My only problem was the jumping around. I'm sure it works in the print book, but it got a little confusing in an audiobook. However, Scott Brick did his usual fabulous job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark T Portland, OR 01-14-14
    Mark T Portland, OR 01-14-14 Member Since 2014

    Audible books are the perfect companion for my 4 mile morning walk!

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    "This is an AMAZING book - read it!"
    Would you listen to Command and Control again? Why?

    I won't listen to it again. But I have bought the Kindle version so that I can study parts of it in more detail.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    It was a fascinating way of structuring the story, integrating "accident" chapters with "history" chapters. Took some getting used to, but it was an effective way to cover an enormous amount of material without getting bored.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    A very solid performance through the whole book. No odd changes in voice or silly pronunciation problems that I've seen crop up in many books.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "Just Because You Were Lucky Doesn't Mean You Were Smart."


    Any additional comments?

    The story of the history of nuclear weapons is still very relevant today, albeit not in a Cold War context. But it's also very relevant in terms of how we should think about a range of highly complex technologies going forward. They may not have the potential to instantly level a city, but they pose risks that need to be thought about. This story makes that abundantly clear!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. R. King 12-21-13
    D. R. King 12-21-13 Member Since 2012

    Complex realist

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating documentary like book on the Cold War"
    Where does Command and Control rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the most interesting non-fiction audiobooks I've listened to thus far... Fast paced and never dull.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    We really lost, burnt, destroyed and screwed up THAT MANY nuclear warheads? Only by the grace of God did we not blow ourselves up by accident.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter C. 12-18-13
    Peter C. 12-18-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Fantastic and Utterly Terrifying"
    What made the experience of listening to Command and Control the most enjoyable?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    A truly compelling audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GORDON 12-08-13
    GORDON 12-08-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Must read/listen book"
    What did you love best about Command and Control?

    History not much known.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Entire book was a real spellbinding story


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    One setting book


    Any additional comments?

    If u like history and suspense get this audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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