Atomic Obsession

Atomic Obsession : Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda

3.48 (74 ratings by Goodreads)
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Ever since the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, the prospect of nuclear annihilation has haunted the modern world. And since September 11, 2001, the view that nuclear terrorism is the most serious threat to the security of the United States or, for that matter, of the world has been virtually universal. But as John Mueller reveals in this eye-opening, compellingly argued, and very reassuring book, our obsession with nuclear weapons is unsupported by history, scientific fact, or logic. Examining the entire atomic era, Mueller boldly contends that nuclear weapons have had little impact on history. Although they have inspired overwrought policies and distorted spending priorities, things generally would have turned out much the same if they had never been invented. For the most part they have proved to be militarily useless, and a key reason so few countries have taken them up is that they are a spectacular waste of money and scientific talent.
Equally important, Atomic Obsession reveals why current anxieties about terrorists obtaining nuclear weapons are essentially baseless: there are a host of practical and organizational difficulties that make their likelihood of success almost vanishingly small. Mueller, one of America's most distinguished yet provocative international relations scholars, goes even further, maintaining that our efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons have produced more suffering and violence than the bombs themselves, and that proliferation of the weapons, while not necessarily desirable, is unlikely to be a major danger or to accelerate. This controversial volume debunks the received wisdom endorsed both by America's military-industrial complex and by its opponents for more than half a century. Demolishing half-truths and false assumptions, this is an important argument that deserves a wide public hearing.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 157.48 x 238.76 x 25.4mm | 589.67g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1 black and white halftone illustration
  • 019538136X
  • 9780195381368
  • 809,942

Table of contents

INTRODUCTION ; I. THE IMPACT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS ; 1. Effects ; 2. Overstating the effects ; 3. Deterring World War III: Essential irrelevance ; 4. Influence on history ; 5. Influence on rhetoric, theorizing, and budgets ; II. THE SPREAD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS ; 6. Arms races: positive and negative ; 7. Proliferation: Slow and substantially inconsequential ; 8. The modest appeal and value of nuclear weapons ; 9. Controlling proliferation ; 10. Assessing the costs of the proliferation fixation ; 11. Reconsidering proliferation policy ; III. THE ATOMIC TERRORIST? ; 12. Task ; 13. Likelihood ; 14. Progress and interest ; 15. Capacity
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Review quote

The narrative is liberally seasoned with striking facts and a dash of wry humour. Richard Lea, TLS Thought-provoking book. David Holloway, Science Some books are written to be read, others to be put in a connon and blasted at the seat of power...sensational. Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
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About John E. Mueller

John Mueller is the Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies and Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University. He is the author of Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them and The Remnants of War, winner of the Joseph P. Lepgold Prize for the best book on international relations in 2004, awarded by Georgetown University. Visit his webpage at:
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Rating details

74 ratings
3.48 out of 5 stars
5 8% (6)
4 54% (40)
3 20% (15)
2 14% (10)
1 4% (3)
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