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The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor Hardcover – May 15, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
This book begins with a look at how a nuclear bomb could (and almost would have to be) made and how it could be detonated. It discusses, in detail, the similarities and differences between plutonium and highly enriched uranium. It further details what the extent of damage would be, as well as likely repercussions. The author then moves into the area of security of possible fuels, and gives a detailed look at how difficult it would be for a terrorist group to obtain the needed material.
Finally, the book finished with a detailed look at A.Q. Khan, and the role Pakistan has had in disseminating information to other third world nations. It also discusses the politics of the nuclear underground and how this might affect the world.
The book is well written, contains much valuable information, and paints a brighter picture than I would have imagined possible. It is, however, frightening to think of who has these weapons and how they might be used.
Langewiesche starts off by describing how a simple mashing together of 2 blocks of highly enriched uranium could cause a blast. Then he describes what it would look like and feel like if you were there.
The next part of the book explains how difficult it would be for a stateless terrorist to obtain highly enriched uranium (HEU) and make a bomb out of it. It is nearly impossible. Uranium is easy to get but it takes a whole lot of technology to make the 90% HEU necessary for a weapon.
The rest of the book is an expose' of the Pakistan's notorious, greedy, egocentric, megalomaniacal A.Q. Khan and how he stole technology from an unsuspecting Dutch engineering firm to develop Pakistan's nuclear weapons program and how he sold the technology to anyone with money.
The last part of the book is an unflinching excoriation of Musharrif and the rest of Pakistan's ruling elite.
The technology is out there; any state with the money will get a bomb - the genie is out of the bottle - Saudi Arabia, Syria, Brazil, Venezuela, Iran; you can't stop it. It is foolish to try.
I disagree with the other review of this book - The author's conclusion is that a terrorist could not obtain a nuke. ( I also heard him say the same on NPR).
He assures us that detonations and nuclear exchanges will likely take place but probably between backward countries such as India and Pakistan. He reassures us that if a state handed over a nuke to a terrorist to use on us, they would be accountable, and nobody has as many nukes as we do.
Langewiesche then goes on to assert that use of nuclear weapons are now more likely by terrorists than a nation-state, due to relatively lesser concern over retaliation.
Terrorists are not likely to obtain a finished bomb through theft - they are well guarded and incorporate sophisticated electronic interlocks. Building one from scratch is also not a likely alternative because of the difficulty enriching natural uranium. Thus, Langewiesche believes that the greatest threat comes from terrorist theft of already highly enriched uranium (HEU), particularly from the former Soviet Union. About 100 lbs. of 90% U-235 woud be required. (Plutonium, available from a number of nuclear-generating plants, is not a likely source because it is HIGHLY radioactive, and very poisonous if inhaled, ingested, or in contact with an open wound; further, it requires a much more complex means of detonation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Atomic Bazaar is poorly written, jumps around and included too much extraneous material. The technical discussion is not well documented and at times contradictory, ie, he first... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Anilao diver
Really goes into the issues, technical, political, and economic, of nuclear proliferation. Worth a read, as it provides the back story for the scare headlines about terrorist... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Thomas Adams
I read this book with some reservation since I was being told to read it. In the end, it was a good book. Read morePublished on January 19, 2014 by Maggot
A fascinating book. William Langewiesche is a very readable author. I read his FLY BY WIRE, and it was great.Published on June 28, 2013 by YO
Full of insightful and factual commentary with a narrative that turns the pgae. I couldnt put it down. Read morePublished on February 13, 2013 by Donal Knox
The book starts out by describing how difficult it is for non-state players to obtain nuclear fissionable matterial and to make the bomb. Read morePublished on February 10, 2010 by Yoda
This is an excellent review of the progress towards Nuclear Nonproliferation, and the process of poor countries to obtain nuclear weapons or develop them in defiance of the Nuclear... Read morePublished on December 28, 2009 by Orville B. Jenkins
This is a timely read, today, with North Korea launching its latest multi-stage rocket, Iran continuing its nuclear program, President Obama proclaiming his goal of a nuclear... Read morePublished on April 7, 2009 by Teddy Dover
The author gets off to a really bad start, which really made me wonder if I'd just wasted money on this book. Read morePublished on October 10, 2008 by David M. Small