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Us Nuclear Weapons the Secret History Hardcover – March 20, 1988


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (March 20, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517567407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517567401
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #672,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA Nuclear weaponry in the U.S. has been a top secret subject since its invention in the 1920s. Hansen here presents an encyclopedic discussion of all of the various nuclear explosives developed, tested, and used by the U. S. Department of Defense. Much of the material was declassified for this book, and Hansen emphasizes his opinion that the secrecy was and is unwarranted. He provides technical details of the physics concepts, as well as political and tactical justification for development of various individual warheads. Students maturing in a nuclear age may wish to be well informed about the sources of their possible destruction; they may also be curious about the scientific principles used to design the weapons. The thorough index and footnotes, as well as appropriate photos, charts, and diagrams make this title a useful one in schools with strong physics curricula .Jim Boyd, Episcopal High School, Bellaire
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This impressive sourcebook belongs with Michael Stephenson and Roger Hearn's Nuclear Case Book ( LJ 9/15/84) and Thomas B. Cochran et al.'s Nuclear Weapons Databook ( LJ 2/15/84). (The former is more philosophically oriented; the latter has data on a larger number of weapons.) Hansen's is the best on World War II developments and after. Especially good are his accounts of Pacific testing after the war; hydrogen bomb development; and missiles, safety devices, fuses, etc. An excellent, understandable section on the nuclear physics of the bombs makes this good for informed readers. Gerald N. Sandvick, North Hennepin Community Coll., Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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I coulda sworn I wrote a review for this book.
Shawn Hughes
There are very few clear tables showing test NAME, PLACE, YIELD; the info has to be gleaned from the [small-print] text.
J. Page
In any case, this is one of the most interesting books on this subject I have ever read.
Tony

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Shawn Hughes on December 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I coulda sworn I wrote a review for this book. Ah, well... This book was written by Chuck Hansen in 1988. It represents the sum total of all of the releasable information on the United States Nuclear Weapons Program at that period.
The volume is chock full of photographs, facts, figures, dates, places, and names. There is *NO* fluff. For many years, it has been *the* reference book on US Nuclear Weapons Systems. It explains very well the theories behind how the sytems operate, broken down into sections such as, nuclear weapons physics, arming, fuzing and firing, weapons systems types, etc. This book graces the shelves of every subject matter expert. Look at the more knowledgable articles on the subject; they all reference this book in the appendix. Unfortunately, there were only a few printings. For this reason, it has become scarce, and expensive when it does appear ( I paid ($$$) for my exc/exc HB copy).
I possess just about every tome on the subject. There is no other book that covers the same ground with the same detail as this one. It simply is the encyclopedia of Nuclear Weapons Non-Sensitive / Unclassified Information.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Page on March 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Hansen's book, "US Nuclear Weapons: The Secret History" has become an essential reference for this important area of national security. The diagrams, pictures and references to DOE/DoD publications is invaluable. Throughout the text, there are minor areas that cover the gray area of being unclassified to sensitive - This kind of intrigue makes it worth the read.

One of the best features of the book is the tabulated lists of specific weapons design to individual weapon systems. From this I can easily know that a Mark III was the "Fat Man" and the Mk 12 fits on the top of a Minuteman ICBM. This alone makes the book valuable.

One confusing aspect is the history of nuclear tests. There are very few clear tables showing test NAME, PLACE, YIELD; the info has to be gleaned from the [small-print] text. The photo spread has awesome color photos of random test shots. One photo shows the crater made by an underground shot - like USAF missileers say, "Its not the blast that kills you; its the fall to the bottom of the crater..."

The ONLY drawback to this book is its OUTRAGEOUS price. I happened to obtain a good copy for $30. I can't say if you should spend hundreds of dollars to purchase - but if you to obtain it, you will definitely appreciate it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I work on nuclear weapons in the USAF. When I came across this book I had to have it! It has everything unclassified you could think of. Many weapons engineers I Know in the nuclear community have this book on their desk as a reference. Outstanding work Mr. Hansen!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William D. Harden on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover
While Mr Hansen did a good job in most aspects of the book, he made a number of glaring mistakes that should have caught. For example, the information on the B28FI bomb and the B28RI bombs was reversed, and a lot of information on the MK 7 fuzing and firing systems was totally wrong. I know because i worked on both of these weapons for a number of years. When you see errors like that, it casts doubt on the rest of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mark W. Randolph on January 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
You want to know about the detonation sequence of a multi-stage thermonuclear weapon? Here it is, together with a comprehensive, well illustrated, and detailed history of United States nuclear weapon development: Weapon history, weapon physics, weapon delivery, weapon accuracies, weapon accidents.

Make no mistake, this is a scholarly work and not written for a popular audience. Mr. Hansen relied only on official sources often obtained for the first time through the freedom of information act. The book includes numerous precise citations and exhaustive footnotes in which Mr. Hansen discusses disparities in knowledge and suggests directions for further research. Mr. Hansen faced a unique and difficult challenge, official secrecy, so there are gaps in the story.

The book was first published in 1988 and is now dated. I expect many of the gaps in knowledge that bedeviled Mr. Hansen have been filled only because of the material first revealed in this book, which I believe remains a superior starting point for studying nuclear weapons history. The book has been criticized for inaccuracies, but I believe any that exist are incidental. The citations and references that I have chased have proven out. I believe Mr. Hansen was thorough and conscientious in his scholarship as do others.

No one in the U.S. military today--no one--has ever witnessed an above ground nuclear detonation. Only the chilling images in this book remain.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tony on August 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am surprised that this book is even legal. I forget what I paid for it but the fact that it now costs over $400 shows what a classic it is. I'm surprised they don't do a second printing.

This contains easy to understand descriptions of both fission and fusion physics and gets into details that are almost design specifications. It also gives us a detailed look at the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal.

I get the feeling from this book, and the book "The Secret that Exploded" by Howard Morland, who is associated politically with Hansen (they are both anti nuke "Progressives"), that Chuck thinks that explaining how they work will somehow cause the reader to become anti-nuclear. That we will consider it scandalous that some H-bombs use Lithium 6 deuteride, rather than Lithium 7 deuteride. (I protest, how dare they do that!!) Maybe he just hates secrecy and tried his best to publicize all of this to spit in the face of the secret keepers.

In any case, this is one of the most interesting books on this subject I have ever read. I just hope Osama doesn't own a copy!
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