From Library Journal
Written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of Star Warriors: A Penetrating Look into the Lives of the Young Scientists Behind Our Space Age Weaponry ( LJ 1/86), this book examines atomic scientist Edward Teller's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). Broad investigates what motivated the hydrogen bomb's creator to conceive a vastly ambitious array of defensive weaponry which, contrary to Teller's assertions, would fuel the nuclear arms race rather than end it. This vivid portrait of the genius behind America's nuclear weapons' program grapples with why Teller was driven to misrepresent the capabilities of Star Wars to the national security establishment, Reagan, and Bush. The Cold War is over but new rationales are being found for this program. Broad's book provides a public service in exposing it. The book is appropriate for informed laypersons, and essential for specialists in the field of nuclear weapons.- Jennifer Scarlott, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
New York Times science-writer Broad (Star Warriors, 1985, etc.), twice a Pulitzer-winner, presents a refreshingly factual account of how physicist Edward Teller sold the Star Wars concept to two conservative Administrations--and adds some prescient comments on how to prevent such apparent abuses of power in the future. Teller, co-inventor of the hydrogen bomb, has long been known as one of America's most enthusiastic cold warriors. According to Broad, the charismatic Hungarian refugee's lifelong habit of spouting off innumerable wild scientific ideas, depending on peer review to separate out the good ones, turned dangerous as his increasing power and right-wing politics served to isolate him from his colleagues while winning him friends among conservative politicians. As a result, Broad says, when Teller became obsessed with the experimental X-ray laser project that would form the heart of Star Wars, he went straight to the White House to lobby for funds, ignoring a chorus of criticism from a wide array of experts. Teller's enthusiasm, the author explains, won the heart of Ronald Reagan, among other technologically unschooled officials, to the tune of $25 billion to date. Broad's thesis--that this phenomenal waste of funds (and Star War's potential to create instability among superpowers) was the result of a deplorable abuse of personal privilege, the defense industry's tradition of secrecy, and a lack of a governmental advisory panel for judging the technical merit of proposed weapons projects--is convincingly backed up by facts presented here. And it gives this tale of a man who in his enthusiasm may have betrayed ``the central principle of his profession''--and who continues to promote Star Wars' replacement project, Brilliant Pebbles--a particularly frightening resonance. A few gratuitous personal remarks (``Hungarians have a reputation for morose introspection, with associated high suicide rates'') detract from what is otherwise an important and eye- opening expos. (B&w photographs and drawings--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.