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Publisher's Summary

At the same time former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top-secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a chilling cache of top secret documents related to America's nuclear program in the 1960s. Here for the first time he reveals the contents of those documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising insider's account of the most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization, whose legacy - and renewal under the Obama administration - threatens the very survival of humanity. It is scarcely possible to estimate the true dangers of our present nuclear policies without penetrating the secret realities of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, when Ellsberg had high-level access to them. No other insider has written so candidly of that long-classified history, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Ellsberg's analysis of recent research on nuclear winter shows that even a 'small' nuclear exchange would cause billions of deaths by global nuclear famine. Ellsberg, in the end, offers steps we can take under a new administration to avoid nuclear catastrophe.

Framed as a memoir, this thriller with cloak-and-dagger intrigue places Ellsberg back in his natural role as whistle-blower. It is a real-life Dr. Strangelove story but an ultimately hopeful - and powerfully important - audiobook.

©2017 Bloomsbury US (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating Insider Story

This is an excellent book on nuclear weapons policy and planning at the highest levels of government as told from an insider's perspective. Given the author's personal involvement in the topics discussed, it is a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of a highly secretive realm. There are mind-blowing historical facts described, and probably everyone should read and contemplate the associated issues. Be forewarned, though, the price of becoming informed will probably be increased cynicism, fear and incredulity.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Mind Boggling

Extraordinary insider account of nuke command and control.
The reader is a bit robotic with sometimes strange pronunciation but he does grow on you and is easy to follow.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Important and alarming story, machine-like performance

Very interesting book. Welll written. The performance is unfortunately amateurish. The reader seems incapable of understanding where one sentence ends and another begins, constantly struggling and stumbling through the author’s use of punctuation. The whole performance seems so uncomprehending and monotonous that for a long time I actually wondered if I was listening to a sophisticated synthetic voice.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Are we nuts??

The strongest powers in the world, those who possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth 100 times over, lead by the righteousness of the United States, plan to cut their nose to spite their face.

It is incredible that they are willing to destroy humanity to prove a point. Deterrence is a sorry ass excuse for eliminating human and animal life on Earth.

This is a story of an insider talking about secrets and plans, which are still going on. Who are those people that get to decide humanities end?

Does anything justify total annihilation? This is the big question of this book, with many insider facts I doubt anyone ever knew. Highly recommended for those who have the power to change things.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Chilling

Most people assume the threat of nuclear war ended in 1992 with the fall of the soviet union. Truth is, it has never been more possible - accidentally or intentionally. Familiar with a lot of the material in this book it was chilling to have someone connect the dots from 1939 - current regarding the United States nuclear weapons and the willingness and continued plans to use them despite all scenarios ending in the planet becoming uninhabitable for life as we know it. MAD indeed... Between this and another title called Ravenrock, that highlights the various schemes concocted to keep the government going post Armageddon; it is evident that a form of madness has infected our elected officials. There will be no winners with a simple miscalculation or purposeful decision resulting in the end of the species.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Powerful appeal to our hearts and minds

Ellsberg reveals his own role in the madness of preparing for nuclear war, describes how we got to this scary state where the entire human race could be extinguished, and concludes with an impassioned plea to end it now. Well worth reading to learn about the reality of the possibility of nuclear winter.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Nuclear Madness

Ellsberg’s argument that the world should be rid of nuclear weapons altogether, or at least reduced to the point that nuclear winter or global cataclysm are not possible, is persuasive. It’s hard to escape this book without a deep feeling the use of nukes is an act of willful genocide.

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Piggyback

Mr. Ellsberg certainly has been exposed to lofty levels within the USG. This story was far from disappointing, but held (at its core) the mind bending danger of human failings maintaining human devised “anything”, in this case atomic weapons. The repeated referenced “Dr. Strangelove” may offer a visual glimpse of which this already understood piece offers. The narrator performs a tonal pitch of mid level USG bureaucrats as if he stepped from a DOD desk to a sound booth. Spot on.

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An eye opening book

While I have done some studies on nuclear weapons and their effects I had no idea how we actually used them. I had no idea that nuclear planners were so wreck less to the point of insanity. If you think that nuclear war is an unthinkable phenomenon that will never happen this book is for you. Nuclear war is in fact a real threat not only threatened by our government but by possible accidents.

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An Important Book That Every American Should Read

If you could sum up The Doomsday Machine in three words, what would they be?

Can We Survive

What did you like best about this story?

The historical significance and a better understanding of why and how we have used these weapons without detonating one since 1945. Also the frightening fact that our presidents have not been able to share the information that defense analysts know.

What about Steven Cooper’s performance did you like?

He did an excellent job considering the simple fact that there is no comic relief when discussing real end of the world scenarios.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The idea of slaughtering civilians who were defined as enemy combatants is very difficult to comprehend and the image of humans boiling to death in a river in Japan is mind-numbing.

Any additional comments?

Most Americans living today have no comprehension of the power of the thermo nuclear weapons that can destroy hundreds of millions of humans in a matter of minutes and millions more who survive the initial strike. There is a quote from Herman Khan that the living will envy the dead after a nuclear attack. Remember this the next time you hear some use the term low yield device. There is no such thing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-28-18

Terrifying

A truly terrifying book that I is without question a must read for all. highly recommended

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  • Thad Beumont
  • 01-24-18

Interesting book - hideous audiobook!

The subject of this book is really very interesting. He has had an interesting and varied career deep within the American apparatus behind the planning and organisation of the nuclear arsenal. He makes a compelling argument for why the oft quoted defense of "deterrence" for holding vast nuclear arsenal is a bit of a tautology.

However, the narrator is hideous. Truly awful. Utterly and totally unlistenable to. At several points, it is completely indistinguishable from a very poor synthesized voice. In fact, it's probably worse as he doesn't seem to be aware of punctuation or what it's for.

A shame, I have had to download the book to read and return the audio book purely because the narration is so awful

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  • matt bowden
  • 01-09-18

There really isn't much new in this

This is not really anything new in this and not as well written as the dead hand.

The narrator is awful - sounds like Google maps gps guidance.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful