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The Fate Of The Earth Hardcover – Import, 1982

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 252 pages
  • Publisher: JONATHAN CAPE; Book Club edition (1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224020641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224020640
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,229,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Cassette
This book attempts to conceptualize the idea of a full scale nuclear exchange between the cold war superpowers, since the idea itself is now "unthinkable". To explore this lack of understanding the author first explains in detail the immediate and long lasting effects of full scale nuclear war. Then, he comments on the situation, making a bid for sanity in an insane situation. The author believes that self-destruction and even planetary destruction "is not something that we will pose one day in the future... it is here now" (182). Schell believes that only a fundamental change in the belief system of the people of the entire planet can erase the danger currently hanging over the world; no amount of arms limitation or reduction will end the threat of total annihilation.
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Format: Paperback
I first became aware of the work of Jonathan Schell through his two excellent books of reportage on the Vietnam War, entitled The Village of Ben Suc (A Vintage Book, V-431) and The Military Half: An Account of Destruction in Quang Ngai and Quang Tin Schell utilizes a most effective technique to convey the horror of war: a very flat affect, in the style of Joe Web's "Just the facts, mam..." He manages to capture the rationales of those who do the killing, and after 40 years, I recall, and even quote his descriptions of helicopter pilots who felt they had skills and techniques to differentiate "hard-core VC" from "innocent peasants" as they flew over, at 200 mph. Of the lakes of ink that have been spilled attempting to capture the experience of the Vietnam War, these two books will always remain in my top ten. Sadly, I note that my reviews at Amazon are the only ones posted on either book.

"In the Fate of the Earth," as the title suggests, Schell goes global. No longer is he addressing a dirty little war half way around the world, fought by a slender percentage of the American population, and viewed by the vast majority on their TV sets, over dinner. The war that Schell fears, a nuclear holocaust, is one that would come crashing into everyone's living room, TV or no. The book was written in the Cold War period, 1982, when the Soviet Union and the United States had thousands of nuclear armed missiles pointed at each other. The military doctrine of the time went by the suitable acronym, MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction.
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By A Customer on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Schell takes the most compelling subject imaginable -- the very real possiblity of nuclear annihilation -- and puts it into gripping, passionate prose. Anyone with a concern for the human race should read Schell's account of the effect of nuclear weapons on nature and civilization. And anyone afraid of being humbled or disturbed needs Schell's reality check all the more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This weighty and closely reasoned book is considered to have changed history.

If you are interested in understanding how the humans manage to avoid blowing themselves up (so far) this is an important source document.

The NYT said in 1982 that is should be reviewed as an "event of profound historical moment rather than as a book".

If you are interested in how history can be changed by a book read this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author is clearly a fanatic on nuclear disarmament (and the idea that the arms race was always mostly our fault). That said, there is still a good deal of solid scientific information here on the nature of nuclear weapons. One has to take some of the author's projections with a grain of salt later on as he tends to go beyond the facts to scare the reader, however.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first heard about this book in a 1986 quote, but was never able to actually read it. The author's thoughts and arguments are still absolutely valid, as humankind is capable of turning the planet into a "republic of insects and grass" as much today than when originaly published. Read it: it's worth it.
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