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Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons Paperback – July 14, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0231135115 ISBN-10: 0231135114 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1 edition (July 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231135114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231135115
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Invaluable... [ Bomb Scare] ought to be read by everyone as a matter of life and death.

(Jason Epstein New York Review of Books)

A welcome antidote to the strange confluence of nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT) opponents.

(Christopher F. Chyba Science)

Review

A compact, balanced, and wise treatment of an issue that is of critical importance to our security.

(Robert L. Gallucci, Dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University)

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Customer Reviews

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Perfect history of nuclear weapons.
Jeremy Browning
The author could and should have tried harder to write regular English for ordinary readers.
Alan A. Elsner
The author is very informed and makes it easy to read.
Meio Setsuna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Schonbek on April 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book deals with something that most of us don't spend much time thinking about. We should think about it more.

Cirincione, the former director of the Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, takes the reader through the history of the development of nuclear weapons and the arms control agreements that have somewhat curtailed their spread. He presents a rational analysis of the drivers that cause states to seek to acquire nuclear weapons as well as the barriers that motivate some to turn away from the quest, or abandon it altogether.

And in the light of reasoned consideration he concludes, "The good news is that the nonproliferation regime has worked. The nuclear threat is less severe today than it was in 1970 when the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force". He bases this assessment on the fact that "the number of nuclear weapons in the world has declined from a peak of 65,000 in 1986, to roughly 27,000 today". But does this necessarily make the world a safer place?

Cirincione takes satisfaction that "the threat of a global thermonuclear war is now near zero". He goes on to state, "The dangers we face today are very serious, but they are orders of magnitude less severe than those we confronted just two decades ago from the overkill potential of U.S. and Russian arsenals. We no longer worry about the fate of the earth, but we still worry about the fate of our cities". It is in the ensuing discussion of nuclear terrorism that the upbeat tenor of the author's faith in the potential of negotiations and agreements to manage the imminent threat increasingly seems disconnected from reality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Cameron Reed on September 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book reviews the history of nuclear weapons and nonproliferation agreements and offers some solutions to the threat of nuclear terrorism as well as ideas to address lack of security of the nuclear fuel supply and preventing the development of new nuclear-weapon states. Cirincione clearly knows his policy issues and history. As often happens with policy-trained writers, however, some of the technical details get garbled: a discussion of assembly timing issues in the gun and implosion mechanisms of Little Boy and Fat Man are sufficiently garbled as to indicate that the author is unaware of the crucial role of spontaneous fission, and one also finds the patently incorrect assertion that the Sun will be able to synthesize elements as heavy as sulfur. These are quibbles in comparison to the grand themes of nonproliferation and disarmament, but one would expect an author of this experience to be more careful: policy issues can hang on technicalities. For the physics, read Bernstein, Serber, Garwin & Charpak and Hoddeson, et al. Cirincione proposes a multi-national system of assured nuclear fuel services, a sort of updated Baruch plan minus any requirement or incentive for current nuclear weapon states to decrease their arsenals. He is silent, however, concerning the resistance such a scheme would likely face from likely US suspicion of a UN-administered program and the vested interests of producers and consumers of nuclear materials and weapons. He also does not address what to do with waste fuel, not a gram of which seems likely to see the inside of Yucca Mountain anytime soon. His suggestion that Israel consider abandoning its nuclear capability without proposals for security guarantees from its neighbors seems divorced from reality.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on January 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book contains a useful brief history of nuclear weapons. It reminds us of the massive arms build-up of the 1950s and 1960s and how the world came to the brink of annihilation in the Cuban missile program. It also puts into perspective international nonproliferation efforts which have enjoyed considerable success in slowing the spread of such weapons. Finally, it reminds us that arms control agreements beginning in the 1970s and accelerating in the late 1980s have dramatically reduced stockpiles making us all safer.
Latter chapters look at the Iraqi nuclear program and rehash tired arguments about the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq without adding anything new.
I have two main criticism. First, we don't get enough detail about how nuclear weapons spread to Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea and elsewhere. We hear nothing about the Israeli program; likewise there is no real assessment of the state of the North Korean program. The author seems relatively complacent about the Iranian program, contrary to other sources who believe it is well-advanced and on the brink of producing a weapon within two or three years.
Second, the book often reads like a policy-wonk briefing paper from a Washington think-tank (which I guess it is). The author could and should have tried harder to write regular English for ordinary readers.
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Format: Hardcover
BOMB SCARE: THE HISTORY & FUTURE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS begins with the first atomic discoveries of the 1930s and covers the history of the growth of nuclear weapons through the decades, right up to the current crisis with Iran and the threat of worldwide proliferation. History, security analysis and theory blends in a general text for any student of world politics and military history, particularly at the college level.
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