The Doomsday Machine
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The Doomsday Machine : Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

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Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction

From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, the first insider expose of the awful dangers of America's hidden, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that is chillingly still extant

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 now-declassified documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising account of the most dangerous arms build-up in the history of civilisation, whose legacy - and proposed renewal under the Trump 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 discussion of recent research on nuclear winter shows that even a 'small' nuclear exchange would cause billions of deaths by global nuclear famine.

Framed as a memoir - a chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating - this gripping expose reads like a thriller with cloak-and-dagger intrigue, returning him to his role as whistle-blower. It is a real-life Dr Strangelove story, but an ultimately hopeful - and powerfully important - book.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 43mm | 783g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • UK ed.
  • 1408889293
  • 9781408889299
  • 89,599

Review Text

This long-awaited chronicle from the father of American whistle-blowing is both an urgent warning and a call to arms to a public that has grown dangerously habituated to the idea that the means of our extinction will forever be on hair-trigger alert Edward Snowden
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Review quote

This long-awaited chronicle from the father of American whistle-blowing is both an urgent warning and a call to arms to a public that has grown dangerously habituated to the idea that the means of our extinction will forever be on hair-trigger alert -- Edward Snowden Nobody could have told this horrifying story better than Daniel Ellsberg. He introduces us to the men who have coldly and with a God-like sense of righteous entitlement, put in place a plan that can, on a whim - not virtually, but literally - annihilate life on Earth. What a book -- Arundhati Roy, anti-nuclear activist and author of THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS and the Pulitzer Prize-winner THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS The Doomsday Machine is not simply a work of history. It was not written to remind us of catastrophes narrowly averted. It is partly a memoir of Ellsberg's years at Rand when he was working on nuclear strategy, but more a warning, delivered by an 86-year-old man who understands the urgency of the present. His memories provide a timely lesson precisely because the crisis he witnessed more than 50 years ago remains painfully relevant -- Gerard DeGroot * The Times * Ellsberg's effort to make vivid the genuine madness of the "doomsday machine", and the foolishness of betting our survival on mutually assured destruction, is both commendable and important ... Especially for young readers, by making earlier generations' failures clear, The Doomsday Machine challenges them to rise to a grand and urgent opportunity -- Graham Allison * International New York Times * Daniel Ellsberg is an exceptionally informed doomster ... The Doomsday Machine describes how nuclear-war planning, some of it unknown to presidents, brought the world closer to incineration than most people understand -- Max Hastings * Sunday Times * Gripping and unnerving ... A must-read of the highest order, Ellsberg's profoundly awakening chronicle is essential to our future -- Donna Seaman * Booklist (starred review) * Ellsberg's brilliant and unnerving account makes a convincing case for disarmament and shows that the mere existence of nuclear weapons is a serious threat to humanity * Publishers Weekly (starred review) * Noted gadfly Ellsberg returns with a sobering look at our nuclear capabilities . . . When the author hurriedly copied the contents of his RAND Corporation safe to reveal, in time, what would become known as the Pentagon Papers, that was just the start of it. He had other documents, even more jarring . . . Especially timely given the recent saber-rattling not from Russia but North Korea and given the apparent proliferation of nuclear abilities among other small powers. * Kirkus Reviews * An absolutely imperative read in this day and age of Trump, Putin, Kim Jong Un, and global instability. -- Helen Caldicott, Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility A fascinating and terrifying account of nuclear war planning by a consultant from the RAND Corporation at the highest levels of government in the Kennedy administration. Ellsberg tells us of the close calls with nuclear war and of the policies developed then that still threaten the planet with annihilation. I couldn't put the book down. -- Frances FitzGerald, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of FIRE IN THE LAKE A powerful testament for future students of a war that the United States should never have fought. * The Washington Post on SECRETS * An invaluable contribution to understanding one of our nation's darkest hours. * San Francisco Chronicle on SECRETS * Daniel Ellsberg risked everything to help end the Vietnam War . . . A real-life political thriller. * USA Today on SECRETS *
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About Daniel Ellsberg

In 1961, Daniel Ellsberg, a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White House, drafted Secretary Robert McNamara's plans for nuclear war. Later he leaked the Pentagon Papers. He lectures and writes on the dangers of the nuclear era and the need for whistle-blowing. A Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Ellsberg is the author of Secrets and the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America. He is also a key figure in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film about the Pentagon Papers, The Post, scheduled to be released in December 2017. He lives in Kensington, California, with his wife, Patricia.
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Rating details

1,272 ratings
4.24 out of 5 stars
5 46% (585)
4 37% (465)
3 14% (173)
2 3% (41)
1 1% (8)
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