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Command and Control Audiobook

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

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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

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  •  
    S. Smail Summerville, SC United States 12-10-13
    S. Smail Summerville, SC United States 12-10-13 Member Since 2017

    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.

    3 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!!!!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly M. Imgrund 08-02-15 Member Since 2015
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    "An Exquisite, Nonfiction Thriller"

    Command and Control provides a frightening white-knuckle ride through the history of the Cold War. Interspersed between an account of the 1980 Broken Arrow incident in Damascus, Arkansas, where a Titan II missile was destroyed during a maintenance accident is a chilling account of the intense and often nonsensical fight between the military and civilian scientists over how best to keep the American public safe from our own nuclear weapons.

    The Damascus Incident is told as would be a novel, and when the book jumps back into history it takes on the air of a particularly good nonfiction read. The book is a pulse-pounder and can stand alongside the best Techno-thrillers of Tom Clancy or Michael Crichton.

    I can listen to this book again and again and never tire of it. Highly recommended for anyone interested in military or cold-war history.

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 11-22-13 Member Since 2009

    Harry Turtledove fan

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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.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Wexler 06-01-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Informational, Compelling"

    This is a LENGTHY audiobook. Listeners should be prepared for that. It is an anthology disguised as a single story. The tales of nearly averted catastrophes are many, folded into the narrative of one Titan-II incident. I used the :30 rewind button numerous times to re-listen to important details.

    Well worth the money & time spent.

    I've known for years about the problems with the command and control of atomic weapons. I just didn't know how big those problems were.

    ~Peter Ronald Wexler

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    buddy 05-10-17
    buddy 05-10-17 Member Since 2015
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    "WOW! Amazing how much I didn't know"

    The book covers some intense details on the evolution of our nuclear arsenal. Eric points out a large number of accdents where a bomb could have blown up in the US.

    I needed to take breaks reading this book because of the significance of the revelations. It did nothing to make me feel safer. Even today when things have cooled off the dangers are enormous.

    Everyone should read this book to understand what to be afraid of with nuclear weapons.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 05-03-17
    Chris 05-03-17

    My love for science is a love of truth, or at least the only sense of truth we can grasp.

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    "I do not recomend this book - if you want to sleep"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Command and Control to be better than the print version?

    Wouldn't know


    What other book might you compare Command and Control to and why?

    Guns Germs and Steel.


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    Good voice


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Do not read this book if you want to sleep soundly tonight.

    Read this if you think voting Trump was a good idea....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    larnole 04-29-17
    larnole 04-29-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Multiple narratives woven into fascinating story"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of Command and Control?

    The accident at Damascus as seen and experienced from many different locations, both in the immediate vicinity as well as hundreds of miles away. From the outset of the book, this is an explosion waiting to happen. The anticipation is built effectively as futile efforts to deal with a potential disaster are attempted and fail.


    Any additional comments?

    The reader will come away with a comprehensive understanding of the history of nuclear/atomic weapons, from the Manhattan Project through WWII and into the 80's. If we the public had known just how haphazardly nuclear weapons were handled and stored, the resulting panic and anger would have had a remarkable affect on politics and society. Command and Control is a fascinating history lesson.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MareG Kilmarnock, UK 04-27-17
    MareG Kilmarnock, UK 04-27-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Terrifying and informative in equal parts!"

    Make sure you have plenty of listening time in your diary (if you are going to listen on Audible) for this book, it is terrifyingly compelling, particularly as the events detailed in it actually happened. The author achieves an excellent blend of detail and story telling to bring the events to life, as well as building up the level of detail when describing technical concepts at such a pace it's easy to follow. The book takes you on a journey from the concept of atom splitting, testing of the concept, development of the weapons, testing of the weapons, and then the strategy of development, deployment, maintenance, and use - all interwoven with historical events but based centrally around the explosion at Damascus silo. This book will really make you think and if, like me, you are pro-nuclear weapons, your position might not change, but you'll understand the precarious situation the world is in whilst they are in existence. Can't recommend this book enough!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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