Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Author: Eric Schlosser
Presents a minute-by-minute account of an H-bomb accident that nearly caused a nuclear disaster, examining other near misses and America's growing susceptibility to a catastrophic event.
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Author: Eric Schlosser
**The documentary Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner, finds its origins in Eric Schlosser's book and continues to explore the little-known history of the management and safety concerns of America's nuclear aresenal.** The documentary will air on PBS's American Experience on January 10th. A myth-shattering exposé 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.
Author: Eric Schlosser
Publisher: Penguin UK
From famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, comes Command and Control a ground-breaking account of the management of nuclear weapons 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? Schlosser reveals that this question has never been resolved, and while other headlines dominate the news, nuclear weapons still pose a grave risk to mankind. At the heart of Command and Control lies the story of an accident at a missile silo in rural Arkansas, where a handful of men struggled to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States. Schlosser interweaves this minute-by-minute account with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policymakers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can't be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Looking at the Cold War from a new perspective, Schlosser offers 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. Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with men 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. It reveals how even the most brilliant of minds can offer us only the illusion of control. Audacious, gripping and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism. Eric Schlosser is the author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness, as well as the co-author of a children's book, Chew on This. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, the Nation, and Vanity Fair. Two of his plays, Americans (2003) and We the People (2007), have been produced in London. 'A work with the multi-layered density of an ambitiously conceived novel' John Lloyd, Financial Times 'Command and Control is how non-fiction should be written ... 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' New Yorker 'The strength of Schlosser's writing derives from his ability to carry a wealth of startling detail on a confident narrative path' Ed Pilkington, Guardian 'Disquieting but riveting ... fascinating ... Schlosser's readers (and he deserves a great many) will be struck by how frequently the people he cites attribute the absence of accidental explosions and nuclear war to divine intervention or sheer luck rather than to human wisdom and skill. Whatever was responsible, we will clearly need many more of it in the years to come' Walter Russell Mead, New York Times
A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
Author: James Mahaffey
Publisher: Open Road Media
A “delightfully astute” and “entertaining” history of the mishaps and meltdowns that have marked the path of scientific progress (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). Radiation: What could go wrong? In short, plenty. From Marie Curie carrying around a vial of radium salt because she liked the pretty blue glow to the large-scale disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima, dating back to the late nineteenth century, nuclear science has had a rich history of innovative exploration and discovery, coupled with mistakes, accidents, and downright disasters. In this lively book, long-time advocate of continued nuclear research and nuclear energy James Mahaffey looks at each incident in turn and analyzes what happened and why, often discovering where scientists went wrong when analyzing past meltdowns. Every incident, while taking its toll, has led to new understanding of the mighty atom—and the fascinating frontier of science that still holds both incredible risk and great promise.
General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation
Author: L. Douglas Keeney
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Packed with startling revelations, this inside look at the secret side of the Cold War exposes just how close America came to total annihilation During the Cold War, a flight crew had 15 minutes to get their nuke-laden plane in the air from the moment Soviet bombers were detected—15 minutes between the earliest warning of an incoming nuclear strike and the first flash of an enemy warhead. This is the chilling true story of the incredibly risky steps our military took to protect us from that scenario, including: • Over two thousand loaded bombers that crossed American skies. They sometimes crashed and at least nine times resulted in nuclear weapons being accidentally dropped • A system that would use timers and rockets to launch missiles even after everyone was dead • Disastrous atmospheric nuclear testing including the horrific runaway bomb—that fooled scientists and put thousands of men in uniform in the center of a cloud of hot fallout • A plan to use dry lake beds to rebuild and launch a fighting force in the aftermath of nuclear war Based on formerly classified documents, military records, press accounts, interviews and over 10 years of research, 15 Minutes is one of the most important works on the atom bomb ever written.
Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons
Author: Scott Douglas Sagan
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Environmental tragedies such as Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez, and Bhopal remind us that catastrophic accidents are always possible in a modern world full of hazardous technologies. Yet, the safety record appears to be extraordinarily good with nuclear weapons, the most dangerous technology of all. This safety record has led scholars, policy-makers, and the public alike to believe that nuclear weapons can serve as a safe and secure deterrent into the foreseeable future in the post-Cold War era. In this provocative and path-breaking book, Scott Sagan challenges such optimistic beliefs. Sagan's painstaking research into formerly classified archives penetrates the veil of safety that has surrounded U.S. nuclear weapons operations. Guided by theories of reliability in complex organizations, Sagan has uncovered a hidden history of frightening "close calls" to disaster: lost nuclear-armed bombers fly into the Russian warning net, Air Force officers tamper with missiles to be able to launch them without orders, B-52 bombers crash with thermonuclear weapons aboard and then vanish from the official histories, an unstable pilot deliberately turns on the two arming switches on his aircraft's nuclear bombs, and false warnings during the Cuban missile crisis lead pilots and radar operators to believe that the United States is under nuclear attack. Incomprehension, political maneuvering, and even cover-ups have limited what we have learned from these dangerous incidents, and Sagan maintains that many hidden bugs in the system remain. While the risk of deliberate nuclear war has been reduced with the end of the Cold War, the risk of serious accidents, even accidental war, remains unacceptably high. The inheritance of nuclear missiles by Soviet successor states, the continuing spread of the bomb to developing nations, and misplaced confidence in the safety of our own arsenal should produce deep concerns. Unless we radically change the posture of our nuclear arsenal, over the long run, when we least expect it, a serious accident will occur. The key factors that scholars believe lead to high organizational reliability - redundant back-up systems, personnel discipline, and trial-and-error learning - have not produced a safe nuclear arsenal. This book therefore challenges our beliefs, not only about nuclear weapons safety, but also about our ability to control the many other hazardous technologies on which modern society is based.
The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race
Author: Richard Rhodes
The Pulizer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb narrates the story of the postwar superpower arms race that culminated in the Reagan-Gorbachev era when the U.S. and Soviet Union came all too close to nuclear war, chronicling the nuclear policies on both sides following World War II and their implications for global peace and security. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.
The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself--While the Rest of Us Die
Author: Garrett M. Graff
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
The shocking truth about the government’s secret plans to survive a catastrophic attack on US soil—even if the rest of us die—is “a frightening eye-opener” (Kirkus Reviews) that spans the dawn of the nuclear age to today, and "contains everything one could possibly want to know" (The Wall Street Journal). Every day in Washington, DC, the blue-and-gold first Helicopter Squadron, codenamed “MUSSEL,” flies over the Potomac River. As obvious as the Presidential motorcade, most people assume the squadron is a travel perk for VIPs. They’re only half right: while the helicopters do provide transport, the unit exists to evacuate high-ranking officials in the event of a terrorist or nuclear attack on the capital. In the event of an attack, select officials would be whisked by helicopters to a ring of secret bunkers around Washington, even as ordinary citizens were left to fend for themselves. “In exploring the incredible lengths (and depths) that successive administrations have gone to in planning for the aftermath of a nuclear assault, Graff deftly weaves a tale of secrecy and paranoia” (The New York Times Book Review) with details "that read like they've been ripped from the pages of a pulp spy novel" (Vice). For more than sixty years, the US government has been developing secret Doomsday strategies to protect itself, and the multibillion-dollar Continuity of Government (COG) program takes numerous forms—from its potential to evacuate the Liberty Bell from Philadelphia to the plans to launch nuclear missiles from a Boeing-747 jet flying high over Nebraska. Garrett M. Graff sheds light on the inner workings of the 650-acre compound, called Raven Rock, just miles from Camp David, as well as dozens of other bunkers the government built for its top leaders during the Cold War, from the White House lawn to Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado to Palm Beach, Florida, and the secret plans that would have kicked in after a Cold War nuclear attack to round up foreigners and dissidents and nationalize industries. Equal parts a presidential, military, and cultural history, Raven Rock tracks the evolution of the government plan and the threats of global war from the dawn of the nuclear era through the War on Terror.
Author: Ashton B. Carter,John D. Steinbruner
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
Author: Eric Schlosser
Category: Social Science
New York Times Bestseller: The shadowy world of “off the books” businesses—from marijuana to migrant workers—brought to life by the author of Fast Food Nation. America’s black market is much larger than we realize, and it affects us all deeply, whether or not we smoke pot, rent a risqué video, or pay our kids’ nannies in cash. In Reefer Madness, the award-winning investigative journalist Eric Schlosser turns his exacting eye to the underbelly of American capitalism and its far-reaching influence on our society. Exposing three American mainstays—pot, porn, and illegal immigrants—Schlosser shows how the black market has burgeoned over the past several decades. He also draws compelling parallels between underground and overground: how tycoons and gangsters rise and fall, how new technology shapes a market, how government intervention can reinvigorate black markets as well as mainstream ones, and how big business learns—and profits—from the underground. “Captivating . . . Compelling tales of crime and punishment as well as an illuminating glimpse at the inner workings of the underground economy. The book revolves around two figures: Mark Young of Indiana, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his relatively minor role in a marijuana deal; and Reuben Sturman, an enigmatic Ohio man who built and controlled a formidable pornography distribution empire before finally being convicted of tax evasion. . . . Schlosser unravels an American society that has ‘become alienated and at odds with itself.’ Like Fast Food Nation, this is an eye-opening book, offering the same high level of reporting and research.” —Publishers Weekly
Author: Paul Bracken
Category: Command and control systems.
Author: Eric Schlosser
Publisher: Penguin UK
'Sitting not far below my feet, there was a thermonuclear warhead about twenty times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, all set and ready to go. The only sound was the sound of the wind.' Seventy years after the bombing of Hiroshima, Eric Schlosser's powerful, chilling piece of journalism exposes today's deadly nuclear age. Originally published in the New Yorker and now expanded, this terrifying true account of the 2012 break-in at a high-security weapons complex in Tennessee is a masterly work of reportage. 'Schlosser's reportage is as good as it gets' GQ
The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and its Dangerous Legacy
Author: David Hoffman
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE The first full account of how the Cold War arms race finally came to a close, this riveting narrative history sheds new light on the people who struggled to end this era of massive overkill, and examines the legacy of the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that remain a threat today. Drawing on memoirs, interviews in both Russia and the US, and classified documents from deep inside the Kremlin, David E. Hoffman examines the inner motives and secret decisions of each side and details the deadly stockpiles that remained unsecured as the Soviet Union collapsed. This is the fascinating story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and a previously unheralded collection of scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies changed the course of history. From the Trade Paperback edition.
An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration
Author: Lauren-Brooke Eisen
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Category: Social Science
When the tough-on-crime politics of the 1980s overcrowded state prisons, private companies saw potential profit in building and operating correctional facilities. Today more than a hundred thousand of the 1.5 million incarcerated Americans are held in private prisons in twenty-nine states and federal corrections. Private prisons are criticized for making money off mass incarceration—to the tune of $5 billion in annual revenue. Based on Lauren-Brooke Eisen’s work as a prosecutor, journalist, and attorney at policy think tanks, Inside Private Prisons blends investigative reportage and quantitative and historical research to analyze privatized corrections in America. From divestment campaigns to boardrooms to private immigration-detention centers across the Southwest, Eisen examines private prisons through the eyes of inmates, their families, correctional staff, policymakers, activists, Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees, undocumented immigrants, and the executives of America’s largest private prison corporations. Private prisons have become ground zero in the anti-mass-incarceration movement. Universities have divested from these companies, political candidates hesitate to accept their campaign donations, and the Department of Justice tried to phase out its contracts with them. On the other side, impoverished rural towns often try to lure the for-profit prison industry to build facilities and create new jobs. Neither an endorsement or a demonization, Inside Private Prisons details the complicated and perverse incentives rooted in the industry, from mandatory bed occupancy to vested interests in mass incarceration. If private prisons are here to stay, how can we fix them? This book is a blueprint for policymakers to reform practices and for concerned citizens to understand our changing carceral landscape.
Redefining the Nuclear Threat
Author: Bruce G. Blair
Publisher: Brookings Inst Press
Category: Political Science
Looks at America's defense strategy, explains the importance of military command and control channels, and assesses their vulnerability to nuclear attack
Author: Dave Eggers
Now a Major Motion Picture starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. A bestselling dystopian novel that tackles surveillance, privacy and the frightening intrusions of technology in our lives. When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
Author: William Perry
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
My Journey at the Nuclear Brink is a continuation of William J. Perry's efforts to keep the world safe from a nuclear catastrophe. It tells the story of his coming of age in the nuclear era, his role in trying to shape and contain it, and how his thinking has changed about the threat these weapons pose. In a remarkable career, Perry has dealt firsthand with the changing nuclear threat. Decades of experience and special access to top-secret knowledge of strategic nuclear options have given Perry a unique, and chilling, vantage point from which to conclude that nuclear weapons endanger our security rather than securing it. This book traces his thought process as he journeys from the Cuban Missile Crisis, to crafting a defense strategy in the Carter Administration to offset the Soviets' numeric superiority in conventional forces, to presiding over the dismantling of more than 8,000 nuclear weapons in the Clinton Administration, and to his creation in 2007, with George Shultz, Sam Nunn, and Henry Kissinger, of the Nuclear Security Project to articulate their vision of a world free from nuclear weapons and to lay out the urgent steps needed to reduce nuclear dangers.
Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the Worst Nuclear Weapons Disaster in History
Author: Barbara Moran
Publisher: Presidio Press
In The Day We Lost the H-Bomb, science writer Barbara Moran marshals a wealth of new information and recently declassified material to give the definitive account of the Cold War’s biggest nuclear weapons disaster. On January 17, 1966, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber exploded over the sleepy Spanish farming village of Palomares during a routine airborne refueling. The explosion killed seven airmen and scattered the bomber’s payload–four unarmed thermonuclear bombs–across miles of coastline. Three of the rogue H-bombs were recovered quickly. Tracking down the fourth required the largest search-and-salvage operation in U.S. military history. Moran traces the roots of the Palomares incident, giving a brief yet in-depth history of the Strategic Air Command and its eccentric, larger-than-life commander, General Curtis LeMay, whose massive deterrence strategy kept armed U.S. bombers aloft at all times. Back on the ground, Moran recounts the myriad social and environmental effects of an accident that spread radioactive debris over hundreds of acres of Spanish farmland, alarmed America’s strategic allies, and damaged Spanish-American diplomatic relations. As the American military floundered in its attempt to keep the story secret, the events in Spain sometimes took on farcical overtones. Constant global media hype was fueled by the hit James Bond movie Thunderball, with its plot about an atomic weapon lost at sea. In addition, there were the unwanted attentions of a rusty- hulled Soviet surveillance ship and even awkward public relations stunts, complete with American diplomats in swim trunks. The Day We Lost the H-Bomb is a singular work of military history that effortlessly and dramatically captures Cold War hysteria, high-stakes negotiations, and the race to clean up a disaster of unprecedented scope. At once epic and intimate, this book recounts in stunning detail the fragile peace Americans had made with nuclear weapons–and how the specter of imminent doom forced the United States to consider not only what had happened over Palomares but what could have happened. This forgotten chapter of Cold War history will grip readers with the tension of that time and reawaken the fears and hopes of that dangerous era. From the Hardcover edition.
A History of a Cold War Missile Program
Author: David Stumpf
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
The Titan II ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) program was developed by the United States military to bolster the size, strength, and speed of the nation's strategic weapons arsenal in the 1950s and 1960s. Each missile carried a single warhead—the largest in U.S. inventory—used liquid fuel propellants, and was stored and launched from hardened underground silos. The missiles were deployed at basing facilities in Arkansas, Arizona, and Kansas and remained in active service for over twenty years. Since military deactivation in the early 1980s, the Titan II has served as a reliable satellite launch vehicle. This is the richly detailed story of the Titan II missile and the men and women who developed and operated the system. David K. Stumpf uses a wide range of sources, drawing upon interviews with and memoirs by engineers and airmen as well as recently declassified government documents and other public materials. Over 170 drawings and photographs, most of which have never been published, enhance the narrative. The three major accidents of the program are described in detail for the first time using authoritative sources. Titan II will be welcomed by librarians for its prodigious reference detail, by technology history professionals and laymen, and by the many civilian and Air Force personnel who were involved in the program—a deterrent weapons system that proved to be successful in defending America from nuclear attack.