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Nuking the Moon

And Other Intelligence Schemes and Military Plots Left on the Drawing Board
Narrated by: Vince Houghton
Length: 8 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4.5 out of 5 stars (56 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Compulsively readable laugh out loud history." (Mary Roach)

The International Spy Museum's Historian takes us on a wild tour of missions and schemes that almost happened, but were ultimately deemed too dangerous, expensive, ahead of their time, or even certifiably insane

In 1958, the US Air Force nuked the moon as a show of military force. In 1967, the CIA sent live cats to spy on the Soviet government. In 1942, the British built a torpedo-proof aircraft carrier out of an iceberg. Of course, none of these things ever actually happened. But in Nuking the Moon, intelligence historian Vince Houghton proves that abandoned plans can be just as illuminating - and every bit as entertaining - as the ones that made it. 

Vividly capturing the fascinating stories of how 21 plans from WWII and the Cold War went from conception, planning, and testing to cancellation, Houghton explores what happens when innovation meets desperation: For every plan as good as D-Day, there's a scheme to strap bombs to bats or dig a spy tunnel underneath the Soviet embassy. Along the way, he reveals what each one tells us about 20th-century history, the art of spycraft, military strategy, and famous figures like JFK, Castro, and Churchill. By turns terrifying and hilarious - but always riveting - this is the unique story of history left on the drawing board. 

©2019 Vince Houghton (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Vince Houghton’s amazing book is about great imaginations - grand, bizarre and terrifying. These schemes deserved to be left behind, but not forgotten. Buckle your seatbelt.” (David E. Hoffman, best-selling author of The Billion Dollar Spy)

"Nuking the Moon is the most fun I've ever had reading about the human capacity for self-destruction. This book begins with that one time the CIA turned cats into covert listening devices, then somehow gets more amazing. With the eye of a storyteller and the knowledge of a historian, Vince Houghton explores the surprising logic behind some of the military's worst ideas." (Jason Fagone, best-selling author of The Woman Who Smashed Codes)

"No one is better qualified to uncover America’s most hapless spy programs than Vince Houghton, and I had an atomic-sized blast reading this book about exploding Mexican free-tail bats, nuclear mines heated by live chickens, and the many extremely dumb ways we tried to kill Castro. Never has the word 'intelligence' seemed like more of a misnomer." (Josh Dean, author of The Taking of K-129)

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  • Overall
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Great mix of Fun and History

I normally don't buy these types of books but I'm glad I did...heard about it on a podcast and have to admit it was fun and informative.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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love this book great research

Really enjoyed all the fun and exciting stories around all these great successes and failures. Worked on our ICBM fleet for a number of years so I really loved the chapters on different weapons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Manchild writes book filled with his opinion

I love the topic of this book, but the treatment is juvenile and I can’t listen to it without hearing the voice of the “comic book guy” from the Simpsons overlay the actual narrator. This has way too much of the author’s I’m-a-middle-aged-man-child-living-in-my-mother’s-basement-and-here’s-my-opinion-on-what-the-military-did-wrong and not enough actual information. I gave up on it less than half way though and returned it to audible.

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the shit that didn't happen

pretty interesting stories of history and the stuff that doesn't happen in between historical turning points