54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2002
Amazon.com has an inventory of over two million books. If I had to choose the single most important book, the one book I would recommend to ANYONE, I would say that this is it.
Dr. Helen Caldicott is an Australian pediatrician and human survival activist. She is frequently on the short list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize. As of the day I'm writing this, she hasn't quite won it yet. I personally think it's just a matter of time before she does.
Would you say that you have a really rock-solid, thorough, complete understanding of the nuclear threat in today's world? Probably not. The topic has had a far lower profile than it once did, since the end of the Cold War. Well, don't you think you ought to consider updating your understanding? This book is user-friendly, it's timely, and it's EXTREMELY informative.
You should buy this book for Chapter Two alone. When's the last time you read anything about nuclear winter, written by someone who actually knows what they're talking about? Don't you think you should be well-informed about the topic? How about accidental nuclear war? Did you know we came within less than 3 minutes of a major, accidental exchange of nuclear missiles, on January 29, 1995? How good an understanding of fallout do you really have? What about its specific medical consequences? As a voter and a taxpayer, don't you think you owe it to yourself, to your children, and to ME (and all the rest of humanity, obviously) to be as well-informed about these topics as possible?!
The bulk of this book is devoted to discussing the often incestuous relationships between major defense contractors and our national government. Dr. Caldicott illuminatingly describes how nuclear policy can be not only influenced, but actually formed, directed, and driven by the extremely well-funded corporate forces of our arms establishment. She makes a number of excellent points about the dangers inherent in this situation. I will let you discover her brilliant observations for yourself.
Even if you don't expect to agree with her views, you should at least hear Dr. Caldicott out. If you disagree with her, that's your right, but at least listen to what she has to say. In a totally non-partisan spirit, she also provides four helpful appendices, which I imagine people of any political stripe would find to be informative and helpful. These appendices include A.)Major U.S. Nuclear-Weapons Makers; B.)U.S. Nuclear-Weapons Control Centers and Government Authorities; C.)Locations of the Majority of Usable U.S. Nuclear Weapons; and D.)Major Antinuclear Organizations in the United States, Great Britain, and Russia.
If you value being informed about matters of life and death, I recommend that you also seek out "The Cold and the Dark: The World After Nuclear War," by Carl Sagan and Paul Ehrlich. Another user-friendly, informative book, which assumes no prior knowledge or scientific background, is "Planet Earth in Jeopardy: Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War," by Lydia Dotto.
But again, the most important book on the topic, and the one I hope you ask all your friends, family and neighbors to read, is "The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush's Military-Industrial Complex," by Dr. Helen Caldicott. Please buy it, and above all, please try to understand what Dr. Caldicott has to say to us all.
49 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2003
When Dwight D. Eisenhower left the presidency in 1961, he issued a famous warning: "In the councils of government we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence . . . by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic process."
Just how prophetic Eisenhower's words were is documented in passionate clarity by Dr. Helen Caldicott in The New Nuclear Danger. She demonstrates in chilling detail how the American military-industrial complex, with the willing help of the Congress and a series of administrations, shrugged off the end of the Cold War and seized on the fallout from 9-11 to cement its hold on our government, our lives, and our futures. The U.S. is now spending far more on the military than we were during the height of the Cold War, and much of that on new or "improved" nuclear weapons.
Nobody doubts that Caldicott is a fierce and passionate advocate of arms reduction, de-militarization, and of making "conflict resolution and peacekeeping our new priorities." What gives this book enormous weight and impact is the immense amount of factual research she presents to support her views. The book is full of hard information about the giant companies that comprise the military-industrial complex, their leaders, and their financial, political and personal links with the government. It's also replete with details about the grossly expensive and enormously threatening weapons systems currently being developed, many in contravention to the arms control treaties that once seemed to give us hope of limiting or controlling the proliferation and spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
This book, more than anything I have read, makes sense of our foreign policy. If in fact Washington is as profoundly influenced by, in the pockets of, and, increasingly, advised and staffed at the highest levels by representatives of the arms industry, our aggressive stance toward the rest of the world, our apparent contempt for arms control treaties, and our go-it-alone attitude all make perfect sense.
One of the most worrisome points Caldicott makes is that the billions currently being spent on the "Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program" are not simply keeping our thousands of nuclear weapons in working order, but are being used for the research and development of entirely new kinds of nuclear weapons. Another is reminding us that the Bush administration's full-court-press towards its version of Star Wars is intensely destabilizing. She makes it frighteningly clear how easily our steps toward a (probably unworkable) missile defense system will be interpreted by our adversaries and even our allies as giving us a first strike capability. This, in turn, will almost certainly provoke a renewed arms race, with increased risk of mutual annihilation.
If you believe that the existence of increasing numbers and types of nuclear weapons, in the hands of an increasing number of nations (of decreasing stability), is the road to peace and prosperity, then you will hate this book. If, on the other hand, you are concerned about the direction the U.S. is moving in, distrust nuclear proliferation, and would like to see your children and grandchildren living in a truly safer and more secure world, then this book is an absolute must. As Caldicott concludes, "We cannot continue to behave as primitive animals . . . conflict resolution and peacekeeping must be our new priorities."
Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation (Wiley, Sept. 2002).
59 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2002
In her exhaustively cross-referenced book, Dr. Caldicott has comprehensively shown how the business side of the current military-industrial complex works. Basically, massive arms makers in the United States buy politicians and also get their own executives into positions of power within the government. With their minions in power, the companies get the Pentagon and Congress to spend nearly incomprehensible amounts of money on weapons and hardware that are often unnecessary for our country and for the world. The Bush administration (and she does name many names) does what it does in order for the right winged aristocratic elite to make absurd amounts of money.
I used to think that the world was a complicated place where we armed ourselves to the teeth in order to stay safe. Now I know that the world is a complicated place where a handful of weapon-makers buy and dictate policies not to make the world safe, but to make themselves preposterously rich (and no I am not a bleeding-heart anticapitalist).
Dr. Caldicott documents many examples of where business prevails over peace. What goes on would be laughable if it weren't so insidiously dangerous.
This book documents a process that should be understood by anyone who votes, and by anyone who still gives a hoot about where our dying planet is heading. Although most of the book is concerned with details of the who, how, and why of nukes, it also shows how truly crooked politicians have become as they sleep in the beds of big-business every night. Do you know who is really running your country?
As she quotes in the book "the only way evil flourishes is for good men to do nothing." And as an environmentalist and concerned citizen, I now see that while recycling and planting a tree are as important as ever, there are bigger, scarier elephants in our collective living room.
Dr. Caldicott, I salute your ambition, intellect, and most of all your courage.
42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Unlike any other author writing on this touchy subject, author Dr. Helen Caldicott highlights the mob-like connections between business and government, without paying head to the feathers she would be ruffling. And her staid, objective assessment of what nuclear winter actually means for the human body is extremely disturbing and important. Some reviewers have labeled her unpatriotic and conspiratorial, without a leg of fact to stand on. This is no mere diatribe, but a thoroughly researched and well-documented analysis of the modern Nuclear Era - an era in which, even here in the US, nuclear spending is on the rise, while India and Pakistan stand poised at hair-trigger alert. It is an era in which Bush and his cabinet have backed out of and boycotted the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty as well as the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, and are currently debating the use of small-scale nuclear weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is an era in which investors can depend on a considerable appreciation of defense stocks, to say the least. Thus, when people accuse her of "anti-Americanism" and "emotional outbursts" we should stop and wonder who these people are and where their money is, for there is nothing in this book but an unbridled commitment to truth and an untiring commitment to public health and safety. After all, she is a physician. If you are interested in the current war on terrorism, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, the relationship between arms contractors and government, or the survival of the human species, this book is a must. If you are employed by or have invested in Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Grumman, Raytheon, or any of the other big military suppliers, and are unable to critically reflect on how ethical your livelihood and investments are, this book is probably not for you. In any event, no matter where you stand on these issues, this book is critically important, and has unleashed a discursive explosion of near nuclear proportions itself.
TIMELY AND IMPORTANT
37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on May 19, 2004
The heart of this well-referenced, easy-to-read book (with very informative appendices), by Dr. Helen Caldicott, is about two substances or two chemical elements:
(1) Plutonium (Pu)
(2) Uranium (U)
There are two types or isotopes of plutonium of primary importance:
Pu-239 is used in nuclear weapons and reactors. Pu-238 is used as a nuclear power source especially in space probe exploration. Both types of Pu cause severe health consequences when there is exposure to them via various means such as by radiation. Note that Pu-238 has been called "the most dangerous material on Earth." One pound of Pu-239 "is almost the most carcinogenic [cancer-causing] substance known to the human race."
There are two types of uranium of importance in nuclear reactions:
(2) U-238 (more common)
U-235 is also used in nuclear weapons and ammunition. U has to be processed and there are medical risks associated with processing it. Both types of U cause severe health consequences when there is exposure to them via various means such as by radiation.
A large part of this book deals with nuclear weapons covering such topics as the following: their components, how they work, their testing, the newer and more efficient ones being made, the aging of nuclear weapons, and the deadly consequences of what happens if nuclear weapons are used. (Caldicott devotes an entire chapter to "The Reality of Nuclear War.") It "has [been] documented how more than 1.3 billion people have been killed, sickened, or maimed by nuclearism over the past 55 years, and how pollution from nuclear weapons operations has drastically changed the global environment and endangered all life forms."
Caldicott presents many examples of innocent people (including children) that now have serious or hopeless medical conditions as a result of being exposed to nuclear radiation through such means as working with and handling nuclear substances, conflict where uranium ammunition is used, and nuclear waste that contaminates food and water sources.
This book, I feel, has its greatest impact when it discusses nuclear accidents. I think most enlightened people are aware that there could be an accidental nuclear war set off by something as simple as the "launch of a weather balloon" and possibly resulting in the "annihilation of the planet." But other types of accidents are possible. For example, in 1964 "a [U.S.] satellite with a...plutonium power system crashed. Some 2.1 pounds of plutoniun-238 were dispersed around the world. A report prepared in 1989...stated that, "a worldwide sampling program carried out in 1970 showed [this contamination] to be present at all continents and all latitudes." Another example closer to where I live: "The most serious Russian nuclear space accident occurred in 1978 when a [Russian] satellite carrying a nuclear reactor smashed into the Northwest Territories of Canada. Sizable amounts of radioactive debris were distributed over [many thousands of miles]...[The resulting] carcinogenic, radioactive particles posed a serious risk to the population, because they could be either inhaled or ingested through the food chain."
The frightening thing is that as more countries acquire nuclear technology and know-how and, as well, as more countries attempt to join the "space race," the potential for increased nuclear accidents increases dramatically.
Another interesting aspect of this book is how the military, corporate-industrial, and political spheres are intertwined and support nuclearism. (Caldicott names specific corporations and politicians.) As a result, tremendous amounts of money are spent on U.S. military programs, money that could be used probably more effectively in non-military areas.
Near the end of the book, Caldicott states the following:
"America has the power and resources to reverse global warming, to save the ozone layer, to prevent chemical pollution, to stop deforestation, to curb the human overpopulation problem...The money that [the American government] invests in killing must now be redirected urgently to the preservation of life. America must rise to its full moral and spiritual height to reach its intended destiny--the nation that saved the world.
In a similar vein, the people of Europe must resist the constant call from America to arm and re-arm. So too, the people of Canada, of Austrailia--and indeed the people of the world. We cannot continue to behave as primitive animals killing for pleasure, killing for money, killing for religious imperatives, killing for greed and territorial imperative. Conflict resolution and peacekeeping must be our new priorities."
(Some people see the solutions in the above two paragraphs as unrealistic. How are they unrealistic?)
There are a few inaccuracies in this book. However, because the overall message is so important, I found it easy to ignore these minor inaccuracies.
In conclusion, this is a powerful book with a powerful message. In 1985, the late two-time Nobel Prize winner (once for chemistry, once for peace) Dr. Linus Pauling nominated Dr. Caldicott for a Nobel Peace Prize. After I read this book, I understood why he nominated her!!
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2002
I bought this book after attending a talk given by Dr. Helen Caldicott. I believe that it is the most important book I could have read at anytime in my life. The passion, tenacity, and integrity, not to mention bravery, that is required to write such an account is seldom seen today. This selfless physician, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has devoted nearly 30 years of her life to helping others--as a pediatrician, ill children, and as an activist, terribly misinformed citizens around the world.
The book is extremely well documented with sources well disclosed and which anyone can confirm for themselves. Yes, the information this book contains can at times be deeply disturbing to read. Often, the truth is. But the reader will be better informed than ever about the real forces at work in Washington, about the outrageous waste of our tax dollars to build bigger and deadler bombs and planes and tanks, and about what we can do as caring citizens who value life to bring an end to a Washington culture that has for too long excelled at the business of producing, selling for enormous profit, and using themselves, mechanisms of murder.
Dr. Caldicott's book (along with her earlier works) should be required reading for every highschool student in America.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Dr. Helen Caldicott's "The New Nuclear Danger" documents the huge nuclear arsenal at our disposal and chillingly describes the horrible consequences of a nuclear exchange. Clearly, the idea of a winnable nuclear war is an oxymoron.
With the Soviet Union dissolved, one would think that the U.S. would be scaling back its arsenal. But Dr. Caldicott alerts us to the reality that the U.S. is significantly upgrading its capabilities, revealing to us the major taxpayer-funded research projects that are currently developing the next-generation of deadly nuclear weapons.
Dr. Caldicott offers the reader many unsettling facts. For example, it was appalling to learn that NASA regularly launches nuclear-powered space vehicles and that the department is playing a substantial supporting role in the militarization of space through the Star Wars program. The author warns about the very real possibility of an accident during launch or re-entry of one of these spaceships and she describes the horrifying health consequences of mass exposure to plutonium that could ensue.
In another revealing passage, Dr. Caldicott contends that Gulf War Syndrome was caused by the deployment of depleted uranium (DU) munitions. Thousands of rounds of DU was spent during the conflict, creating a radioactive battelfield. The area will remain contaminated forever unless it is cleaned up; meanwhile, soldiers and innocents alike will continue to suffer from exposure long into the future.
Analyzing the root causes of U.S. militarism, Dr. Caldicott contends that there are structural problems in the U.S. system of government that urgently need correction. Chief among them is the influence that large corporations such as Lockheed-Martin have in shaping government policy. Simply put, when defense contractors pay for political campaigns and otherwise get their cronies appointed to key positions, decision making is no longer in the hands of the people. Another critical problem pertains to the unaccountable Pentagon careerists who crave the power that ever-more lethal weapons systems purportedly give them.
On that point, Dr. Caldicott details the current Bush administration's deep ties to the defense industry and their allies in the Pentagon. Their collective gung-ho attitude is costing taxpayers dearly as literally hundreds of billions is being spent on wasteful new weapons systems. The author also criticizes the Clinton administration's feeble attempts to significantly roll back the military/industrial complex, suggesting that Clinton probably wasted a historic opportunity to cut the nuclear program to an appropriate post-cold war level.
Dr. Caldicott also discusses the important role that propaganda plays. Corporate-funded think tanks persuade the public that advanced weapons are needed to protect us from terrorists, communists, and other strawmen. One such think tanks wrote the Republican Party's foreign policy platform for the 2000 campaign; subsequent to gaining power, the Bush administration has been actively pursuing these policies. For example, its political confrontations with China and North Korea had been recommended in order to frighten the public into accepting otherwise unwarranted increases in defense spending, which in turn has richly rewarded the think tank sponsors.
Dr. Caldicott reasons that security could be achieved by simply rethinking our foreign policy. The author suggests that the money spent on defense could be better spent on curing poverty and disease, improving education, and restoring the environment; in other words, on programs that would make the world a more humane and peaceful place. In my view, this is not merely a naive hope, as some suggest; it is our only alternative.
Some extremists have called Dr. Caldicott's statements "anti-American". But Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower are just a few Americans who warned about the dangers of unchecked corporate power on the functioning of a healthy democracy. (The Lincoln quote cited in the book is from a letter he wrote to Colonel William F. Elkins on Nov. 21, 1864 -- other reviewers had called into question Dr. Caldicott's research.) But surely no one would accuse these people of not being pro-American. Iin my view, Dr. Caldicott is likewise reminding us of our responsibilities of living in the most powerful democracy the world has ever known. As citizens, we cannot reclaim power from the merchants of death until we better understand the truth, no matter how difficult or painful that may be for some of us to accept.
To that end, I give this book the highest possible rating. I strongly encourage you to read it and pass it on to someone you care about.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2002
If you are interested in the continuity of all life on this planet and you can only read one book..THIS IS IT!!. If this book does not wake us to immediate action then it appears we are already dead. The "opiates" of fast food and the glamours of our "fact-less" media have left us in a deep state of ignorance...we need to wake up and this is the book that did it for me. Dr Caldicott gives clear and factual presentation and analysis of the driving forces and effects of the corporate/military/governmental/industrial/complexes on our lives and the environment. Her timely expose of the ongoing and expanded nuclear militarization of the world substantiated my deepest fears.
24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2002
This book is a MUST. It supercedes every other problem we as humans face on this planet. Without a planet, all the other problems are a mute point.
Dr. Helen makes a strong point AGAINST the nuclear buildup that is once again BACK on with this Bush-Military Administration. I like that she names names, and figures to show Americans just what is really behind all our tax paying dollars and where they are mis-spent.
At a time where Mr.Bush has recreated the cold war, made enemies of past allies, this book couldn't come at a more important time in our history. As we face a "war without end" and possibly military involvement in Iraq, the next step could be Armageddon.
This book needs to be in the hands of every person in the world, but starting with America would be fine. Teachers, students, parents need to realize just how dangerously close we came to nuclear disaster on 9/11 and still are.
I interviewed Dr.Caldicott on my webcast ... on July 31, 2002. It was one of the most powerful hours I could spend, or you could spend learning from.
Helen makes the case for the fact it would be WORSE to survive a nuclear disaster, than die in one. I don't like either choice, do you? Read it, share it. Buy it by the dozen and gift it out. All our lives depend on a HUGE reality check, which this book gives you.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2002
Many ordinary citizens are getting more and uncomfortable with the Bush administration's foreign adventures. This essential book gives us the FACTS - in clear, well organized chapters -to better understand
* The extent of defense industry influence on foreign policy decisions
* The medical consequences of contact/exposure to radioactive material and weaponry
* The TRUE AGENDA of the insane expenditures for Star Wars
* Finally, a guide to defense contractors and to peace groups
THANK YOU Dr. Caldicott for doing the hard work of organizing this material so we can carry on your work.