31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
One of the most influential books of the last 30 years,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Curve of Binding Energy: A Journey into the Awesome and Alarming World of Theodore B. Taylor (Paperback)
"The Curve of Binding Energy" is the landmark work that changed the American government's collective mind about the possibility of nuclear terrorism. It is fair to say that until nuclear weapon designer Ted Taylor sat down with John McPhee, and until McPhee's articles and book were published, the U.S. government believed that building a nuclear weapon required a regiment of top scientists and an effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project, something which could only be done by major industrialized powers (despite China).
After "Curve" was published, the government accepted the idea that terrorists could build nuclear devices, given only that they had access to fissile material and shifted gears almost immediately, an occurrence as rare as its effects were crucial. Taylor demonstrated that a few competent people mining the scientific literature could do the job. Many millions of dollars, pounds, francs, euros and rubles have been spent by many governments since publication of "Curve" to ensure that no terrorist ever gets his hands on plutonium or enriched uranium, and we are all safer as a result.
The book is, of course, incredibly readable and compelling. One would not expect less from the foremost prose stylist in the United States.