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

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

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By (author) Eric Schlosser

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Format: Paperback | 632 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 208mm x 33mm | 549g
  • Publication date: 26 August 2014
  • ISBN 10: 0143125788
  • ISBN 13: 9780143125785
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 214,545

Product description

A myth-shattering expose 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 fifty 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.

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Author information

Eric Schlosser is the author of "The New York Times "bestsellers "Fast Food Nation "and "Reefer Madness." His work has appeared in "The Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair," and "The Nation."

Review quote

"Los Angeles Times" "Deeply reported, deeply frightening... a techno-thriller of the first order." "The New Yorker" "An excellent journalistic investigation of the efforts made since the first atomic bomb was exploded, outside Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945, to put some kind of harness on nuclear weaponry. By a miracle of information management, Schlosser has synthesized a huge archive of material, including government reports, scientific papers, and a substantial historical and polemical literature on nukes, and transformed it into a crisp narrative covering more than fifty years of scientific and political change. And he has interwoven that narrative with a hair-raising, minute-by-minute account of an accident at a Titan II missile silo in Arkansas, in 1980, which he renders in the manner of a techno-thriller..."Command and Control" is how nonfiction should be written." (Louis Menand) "Time "magazine "A devastatingly lucid and detailed new history of nuclear weapons in the U.S. ... fascinating." (Lev Grossman) "Financial Times" ""Command and Control" ranks among the most nightmarish books written in recent years; and in that crowded company it bids fair to stand at the summit. It is the more horrific for being so incontrovertibly right and so damnably readable. Page after relentless page, it drives the vision of a world trembling on the edge of a fatal precipice deep into your reluctant mind... a work with the multilayered density of an ambitiously conceived novel... Schlosser has done what journalism does at its best when at full stretch: he has spent time - years - researching, interviewing, understanding and reflecting to give us a piece of work of the deepest import." "The Guardian" "The strength of Schlosser's writing derives from his ability to carry a wealth of startling detail (did you know that security at Titan II missile bases was so lapse you could break into one with just a credit card?) on a co