Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Bomb in the Basement: How Israel Went Nuclear and What That Means for the World Hardcover – January 3, 2006
See the Best Books of 2017 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
[Signature]Reviewed by Lydia MilletUntil recently there were five declared nuclear powers in the world: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. Israel has never admitted to possessing a nuclear arsenal, pursuing a policy of "ambiguity" and refusing to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but for decades it has been recognized internationally as a nuclear state.Israeli journalist Karpin's groundbreaking new book, following in the wake of a documentary of the same name he made in 2001, offers an in-depth look at Israel's acquisition of nuclear arms technology and at the ideology and politics driving it. The stories of the men who played major roles in bringing the bomb to Israel—longtime prime minister David Ben-Gurion, scientist Ernst Bergmann, diplomat and intelligence operative Shalhevet Freier, future Nobel laureate Shimon Peres—are compelling and finely drawn. That Israel's technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons should have come through backdoor negotiations with France, rather than from its richer and more powerful American ally, will come as a surprise to many readers not familiar with this complex and intriguing history.Karpin's strength lies in tracing material detail rather than in speculation of a more abstract kind. He avoids exploring the philosophical and moral dimensions of Israel's deployment of nuclear weapons or of its policy of official denial, tending to invoke the horrors of the Holocaust as inspiration for defense of the Jewish state rather than to examine the specific reverberations of the official choice to embrace and hide weapons of mass destruction. The irony that Israel—a state created with a very special mission as a utopian refuge for Jews escaping persecution and genocide—has chosen to base its security on a weapons system historically used exclusively for the mass killing of civilians is barely examined.This is hardly surprising, since such a discussion could amply fill a second volume; nonetheless, the author's conclusion that achieving the nuclear option, though possibly a "great mistake," did have a "certain justification," namely the threat of the destruction of Israel by neighboring Arabs, is conceptually underwhelming. Still, for all those interested in understanding how Israel's idealistic origins dovetail with its hawkish position in the game of nuclear deterrence and fraught relationship with other countries in the Middle East, this well-researched study is a must-read. (Jan.)Lydia Millet's most recent novel, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart (Soft Skull), brings atom bomb physicists Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard back to life in modern-day Santa Fe.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
At a time when the U.S. is at war with Iraq and threatens sanctions--or worse--against Iran to curb nuclear armaments in the Middle East, this book explores how Israel has been able to finesse the buildup of its nuclear capabilities. Israel is the only nongreat power whose nuclear development is unchallenged and even supported by the U.S. At the close of World War II, Israel--like other nations--understood the potential deterrent value of nuclear weaponry. Karpin details how Israel assembled a team of technical experts and took advantage of the political needs of France and Britain on their Arab colonial front. Successive American administrations since Eisenhower have viewed Israel as an "asset" with a special relationship with the U.S., serving its interests in the Middle East. Karpin also analyzes the 1973 Yom Kippur War in the context of Israel's nuclear developments. However, his argument for Israel's nuclear capabilities as a deterrent and stabilizing force, even as it is denied or obfuscated as an energy program, raises issues about other nations using the same strategy and rationale. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
There were waves of Jewish illegal immigrants to Palestine. Once the Jewish population reached a critical mass the international community paved the way for the modern Israeli state. This new state needed the ultimate weapon to detour would be invaders. There was a nuclear program before there was a state. The hope was the bomb would be "in the basement" as defensive weapon.
The Arab and North African countries (among others) took offense to the Jewish state. To increase the insult the Jews created an industrialized democracy without the benefit of petro-dollars. Over the years Jews living other Middle Eastern countries became hard so the migration to Israel increased. With the concentration of the Jews in Israel the Arabs had one place to focus their hatred (the US not withstanding).
The premise is forwarded that the bomb in the basement protected Israel during the 1973 war on the assumption that Sadat knew of the bomb and simply wanted the Sinai back in the hands of Egypt. Somehow Sadat knows about the bomb but Assiad in Syria doesn't? If you know they have the bomb then how can you be sure they won't use on you in the heat of battle? Why was there no effort on the part of Egypt to negate the nuclear threat of Israel? Why have the bomb the in the basement if you are the only one that knows it is there?
Lets assume that everyone who would wish Israel harm after 1973 knows they have the bomb, do they let them live in peace or do they just change their tactics? Now we have the diplomatic games such as land for peace and the ever in and out tide terror attacks. Does anyone really expect the Arab nations will allow Jewish state to live in peace? The bomb may have allowed Israel to exist for its first 60 years but what of the next 60? Will Iran have the bomb later this year? What country or group will be next join the nuclear club? Israel is rumored to have over 150 nuclear weapons some of which could be deployed in submarines. If Israel has put nuclear ordinance on submarines then the bomb has already left the basement. As long as there is an Israeli state, that state will always have to be vigilant in protecting its people from hostile forces committed to its destruction.
I have read many books on this subject. Most book on this subject, even by Israeli have a tendancy to concentrate totally on the US and Israel relationships such as Avner's "Israel and the bomb" and almost ignore local Israeli and French policies.
This book however does make an attempt to discuss the actually bomb construction including the relationship with France, that was so important in getting it built. What struck me almost immediately is how cheap was the Israeli nuclear program! Many 100 of millions US dollars and several thousand people might be a massive project but compared to other nuclear programs, it does seems incredibly cheap. Still I would have liked to have seen more about the nuts and bolts of how Israel actually built the bomb.
Whether the US could have stopped the project as the writer states, I think is unlikely, considering that they had little to do with its creation nor did they know for certain about it until the Israeli bomb was well established. Without the US though Israel would have probably have a public nuclear defence policy.
The writer also provides a fairly good discussion at the end of what Israel achieved by its bomb program and the reasons for the Israeli policy of ambiguilty.