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My Journey at the Nuclear Brink Paperback – November 11, 2015

4.7 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Perry, more technocrat than politician, emphasizes his efforts to prevent nuclear war in this sincere and nontriumphalist memoir."—Publishers Weekly


"William Perry's dedicated service to our nation spans generations, and this remarkable book documents a lifetime of achievements that have made America stronger and safer. In these pages, you will have an insider's look at the acute tensions of the Cold War and the expansive opportunities that emerged when it ended. Dr. Perry's experiences demonstrate why we must do everything we can to reduce the dangers of nuclear proliferation. You will be inspired by the impact that one gifted individual can have on the most pressing national security challenges that we face."—Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall


"Bill Perry has the highest A to E ratio (accomplishments to ego) of anyone I have ever known. His vision and foresight have made America safer, stronger and more secure. He has lived General Omar Bradley's dictum: 'The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.' Everyone interested in protecting the future of our nation and planet should read this book and learn from Bill's experience."—Former Senator Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative


"William Perry's timely memoir is a must-read for anyone who shares his vision for a future unburdened by the threat of nuclear war. Written from the vantage point of his singular leadership in this space, this book is the latest chapter in Secretary Perry's distinguished career of public service."—Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO, Theranos, Inc.

About the Author

William J. Perry was the 19th Secretary of Defense for the United States from February 1994 to January 1997. He previously served as Deputy Secretary of Defense (1993–1994) and as Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (1977–1981). He is the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor (emeritus) at Stanford University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Security Studies (November 11, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804797129
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804797122
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The world is armed to the teeth and in constant conflict. In particular, despite repeated attempts to reduce their number, thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons are poised for rapid delivery from land silos, from aircraft and from submarines. Thoughtful men and women in every civilized nation yearn for wise, experienced and competent leaders who can manage and reduce the horrific potential of a nuclear weapon used . . . anywhere.

Enter William J. Perry, a Palo Alto engineer, entrepreneur and—in his role as U.S. Secretary of Defense—a leader and diplomat who has devoted his life to reducing and, if possible, eliminating the nuclear threat that, now and in minutes, could destroy civilization.

Perry describes his progress from Army observer of post-nuclear attack in post-WWII Japan to becoming a committed, passionate advocate for nuclear arms control. He knows what could happen if a nuke is used anywhere in any way—accidentally, through terrorism or by an intemperate leader with an itchy trigger finger. He cites, chillingly, the not-infrequent near-misses of potentially
catastrophic nuclear accidents.

After leaving the Army he worked for Sylvania’s electronic surveillance operations, then founded ESL (Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory) in Silicon Valley, later sold to TRW. In the process he became intimately knowledgeable about the world’s nuclear weaponry, particularly the overwhelming tripartite (land, air, submarine) nuclear capabilities of the United States and the Former Soviet Union.

The book, with a powerful and moving introduction by former Secretary of State George P. Schultz, is linear, logical and impeccably reasoned.
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I found this book well worth reading. It is well written and chuck full of information. I had only a newspaper understanding of the basic issues in the cold war and was glad to expand them with information from someone who was party to the decisions. The author was there through his role in electronic reconnaissance, in weapons development as Deputy Sec Defense and then as Sec Defense.
Dr. Perry had the personal experience of witnessing the destruction of Tokyo and then Okinawa at the end of WW2 as an 18 year old army draftee. Now, imagining a multiplication this horror by a zillion, he has played a leading role in assuring that the possible holocaust facing us in a nuclear war did not, and hopefully will not, occur.
I learned a lot about the workings of the Defense Dept and the development and acquisition of weapons. What was surprising was the amount of diplomacy involved in defense decisions. There were many military to military meetings between countries and particularly between the Soviets (and then Russians) and us. Some of it is natural and unavoidable, but under Perry there was a lot more of it leading to friendly relations amongst the defense establishments of various countries. This was important for nuclear safety in the trust it generates. The world is a lot safer with the reduction of nukes under Start I, Start II, the elimination of intermediate range nuclear missiles, a test ban treaty, and more.
The author gives great credit to the Nunn-Lugar law which enables America to assist and lead in the attempt to eliminate "loose nukes" and fissionable material that might fall into the wrong hands. Under this law the US has aided and to a large extent financed the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
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This is a book we all should read -- and soon. We get so involved with our lives: projects, family, work -- we forget the sword hanging over our head. It is very uncomfortable to read this book as you know the author has the experience, education, and temperament to write this truthfully and the truth is terrible. However, not without hope as long as we each put some real lifting into savings the nukes -- maybe not turn them into plowshares but at least into low grade usable fuel to power electric stations and not make warheads. Our civilization depends on our fight -- let's not back away.

Thank you William J. Perry -- you are a very special man.
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It is wrong to say "I love it" per se. I consider this book to be essential reading. The author asserts that the risk of nuclear terrorism puts the Doomsday Clock at 1 minute to midnight. I agree. This is a difficult book to read because the material is so scary, but intelligent people of all political orientations should read it asap.
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Bill Perry takes on the most difficult and confusing episodes in our history and shines a bright spotlight on them, making them completely understandable. These include the Cold War, the Cuban missle crisis, the war in the Balkans, and the atomic weapons in North Korea. He makes a strong moral and logical case for the abandonment of Nuclear weapons. It becomes very clear as to the immense debt we owe to this remarkable public servant.
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This is an excellent book covering the gamut of the nuclear proliferation issue from an individual who has obviously dedicated his career to be a positive global influence on these issues, and has been on the "front lines" of the action. I have to say that William Perry's role in the government and Defense Dept. really never stood out to me. However, after reading this book, I have a great deal of respect for the man ... as so many others obviously do. It makes me wish that we had a lot more skilled diplomats and thought leaders active in the government today as America's role in the world and leadership on the nuclear issue has clearly declined over the last decade or more. It does appear though that Ash Carter is a very capable Secy of Defense, who has worked arm in arm with Mr. Perry on these key issues throughout his career.
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