From Publishers Weekly
Rosenbaum (The Shakespeare Wars), an investigative reporter and Slate columnist, examines the potential for and consequences of nuclear conflict in this sobering, well-argued study. Drawing on decades of study in the field, the author points to a new world that will feature multiple nuclear powers that pose a threat for "touching off a regional nuclear war that could escalate to global scale." Nuclear weapons in the hands of such unstable regimes as Pakistan, North Korea, or Iran is not Rosenbaum's only concern. He worries about Russia's "new bellicosity" and its shoring up and modernization of its nuclear arsenal. Moreover, he argues that the Obama administration's new START treaty preserves a dangerous status quo that leaves in place a "rickety" nuclear command and control system with a "one percent per year" risk of failure. After examining and reluctantly dismissing the prospects for nuclear disarmament, the author concludes with a stark warning: "It's all about luck now. I'm a pessimist." In clear, crisp language, Rosenbaum not only vividly details his personal odyssey "to map out the terra incognita... of the new nuclear landscape," but also challenges the rest of us to confront the gathering storm. (Mar.)
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It�s time to rethink the unthinkable, says Rosenbaum. Impelled by his advocacy to abolish nuclear weapons, he interviewed former and current military officials, academic strategists, and philosophers, who ponder the reliability of nuclear command and control and contingencies that contemplate using nuclear weapons. Providing readers summaries of the cold war�s nuclear close calls, Rosenbaum quizzes defenders and critics of nuclear deterrence. He is naturally sympathetic to arguments that deterrence is an unstable mind game destined to fail. How it might takes Rosenbaum into scenarios involving a country regularly assailed by threats of annihilation, Israel. What if, despite Israel�s atomic arsenal, Iranian menaces eventuate in a nuclear attack (which Rosenbaum pessimistically predicts). Rosenbaum asks several interlocutors if Israeli retaliation that would kill millions of innocents could be ethically justified. Shifting the problem from seminar abstraction to air-raid reality, Rosenbaum discusses war risks run by Israel�s acts of preemption, as in its 2007 destruction of a Syrian nuclear reactor. With the bomb proliferating, Rosenbaum is an alarming herald of current and possibly future events. --Gilbert Taylor