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Publisher's Summary

Here is the culminating volume in Richard Rhodes’s monumental and prizewinning history of nuclear weapons, offering the first comprehensive narrative of the challenges faced in a post-Cold War age.

The past 20 years have transformed our relationship with nuclear weapons drastically. With extraordinary depth of knowledge and understanding, Rhodes makes clear how the five original nuclear powers—Russia, Great Britain, France, China, and especially the United States—have struggled with new realities. He shows us how the stage was set for a second tragic war when Iraq secretly destroyed it's nuclear infrastructure and reveals the real reasons George W. Bush chose to fight a second war in Iraq. We see how the efforts of U.S. weapons labs laid the groundwork for nuclear consolidation in the former Soviet Union, how and why South Africa secretly built and then destroyed a small nuclear arsenal, and how Jimmy Carter’s private diplomacy prevented another Korean War.

We also see how the present day represents a nuclear turning point and what hope exists for our future. Rhodes assesses the emerging threat of nuclear terrorism and offers advice on how our complicated relationships with North Korea and South Asia should evolve. Finally, he imagines what a post-nuclear world might look like, suggesting what might make it possible.

Powerful and persuasive, The Twilight of the Bombs is an essential work of contemporary history.

©2010 Richard Rhodes (P)2010 Random House

Critic Reviews

“Absorbing . . . Rhodes makes the technical issues lucid and accessible, and the tale also has intrigue and suspense, heroes (Jimmy Carter) and villains (the Bush administration). It’s a story of deceit, corrupt politics, and diplomatic half-measures, but also of improbable outbreaks of common sense and far-sightedness....Rhodes shows us the heartening spectacle of humanity slowly turning away from the abyss.” ( Publishers Weekly)
“Since the publication of The Making of the Atomic Bomb...Rhodes has owned the story of nuclear weapons.... [ The Twilight of the Bombs is] a skillful assessment of the transformation of nuclear weapons from the so-called guardians of our security during the Cold War to the burden and catastrophic threat they pose today....Informed and eloquent.” ( Kirkus)
“Impassioned....Rhodes’ formidable nuclear knowledge, readably presented, will convey his moral opposition to nuclear deterrence to a sizable audience.” ( Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • Westford, MA, United States
  • 10-21-10

Definitive Series ends with warnings but also Hope

I started with his first book, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb", which earned Rhodes a Pulitzer. It's still my favorite, but the entire series comprises a mini-education in history, diplomacy, science, war, politics, human nature, and a touch of philosophy. Rhodes' gift is his ability to tackle very complex topics across multiple domains to tell compelling stories, lucidly, authoritatively, and concisely. His objectivity and clarity are important elements in his writing of history. If you're interested in history, science, nuclear power, poly-sci, WW-II, start with "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" and go through the series. You'll feel like you took a graduate course in several subjects.

If you want an update on the state of affairs in nuclear weapons, terrorism, post-Cold-War politics, Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, the book offers plenty. I particularly value the stories behind the scenes of how dedicated professionals, civil servants, and a former president made the world a safer place, without fanfare. These people deserve to be recognized. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in these topics, but, if you're not, it will bore you...just being honest. Even if you are interested, there's some rough going with an alphabet soup of treaties & organizations. The book is scholarly, after all. While it stands on its own, it's also the culmination of serious work accomplished in his three prior books.

Rhodes has taken tons of raw sensitive data & material from around the world and, like the processes used in nuclear enrichment, he produced highly enriched intellectual material, suitable for a long slow burn or a flash of enlightenment. (sorry :-) I recommend starting with, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb", but if you want to go to the present, you won't be disappointed.

Richard Rhodes has accomplished more than writing good history. He has contributed much needed understanding and opportunities for dialogue. He has also now become part of the story.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • jeffrey
  • carson, nm, United States
  • 01-17-11

The power of the gods....

Before I read this book, I want to say that The Making of the Atomic Bomb is the book you must read. It is unabridged here with a different context/spin. I found myself with this book last winter and could not put it down......the depth of what went on in Los alamos and in Chicago and in dc is mind boggling....who were the people working on this program and what we their thoughts on atomic energy...so, you did not get a review of the book in question yet, and after I have listened, I'll return here for another review. The book downloads in two parts, so it will be a while. If you are new to this, please try to find The Making of the Atomic Bomb.....your understanding of the world in crisis will jump one thousand percent......

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another excellent book by Richard Rhodes

This is the final book in Rhodes' series of 4 books about nuclear arms development, history and policy. I've enjoyed each one - learning new elements of history, people and politics involved in what must be one of the most frightening developments of the 20th century.

Rhodes' research and insight is excellent as always and Robertson Dean's narration is excellent - Clarity, pace and pronunciation are flawless. After listening to a few books narrated by R. Dean I now seek out more, finding his narration superior to many others I've heard.

Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

4th is a charm for Richard Rhodes !!!

If you could sum up The Twilight of the Bombs in three words, what would they be?

Informative, great story telling with footnotes n Robertson Dean makes it interesting with military like use of word........ just as inside delta force.

Pros
1. Great details on dying empire fmr USSR
2. Correct 110% on US State dept affairs says something else does the other way

What did you like best about this story?

role of James Baker

What about Robertson Dean’s performance did you like?

9/10

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

I already most from reading classified n unclassified docs within state dept n cia DO n DI due to security access as senior operations officer counter intelligence said to say our country has turned into a police state n democracy is just a front.

Any additional comments?

awesome closing from birth of atoms bombs to peace times 2012.....

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

scary and hopeful

many of rhodes books should be mandatory reading for people in power.
forgetting the price of playing the nuclear game, can only result in utter destruction of life and morals!
and this book shines a light on the danger seven billion people live with.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another spectacular history by Pulitzer winning Richard Rhodes

This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of the world where nuclear weapons still remain abundant.

Rhodes' research is impeccable, and his writing style flows like water. There is probably no author who knows more about the subject of nuclear weapons than Rhodes.

The narrator, Robertson Dean, has a rich voice and reads the story at a very good but varied pace. I feel like Dean always takes time to learn the subject matter of the books he reads so that he understands the nomenclature and makes his reading a "performance."

Well done to the author and the narrator!

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Boring with a political bent.

I found this Audiobook quite boring actually. It seems to drone on and there is quite a bit of injection of politics into it, blaming conservatives for most of the problems that surround nuclear weapons. While some of that maybe true, there is plenty of blame that can be spread around in the US Government on both sides of the political isle. I wish that component was left out of the narration and more facts were just brought to bear. Some interesting aspects were about how the US helped deal with the issue of nuclear weapons in former Soviet republics after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Overall, this book does have some interesting stories, but is mainly just boring.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

holy hell

this is not exactly what I was expecting, but it was an excellent book. I highly recommend it. it is very relevant to what is going on right now.