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How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III Paperback – February 21, 2012
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—Michael Anton, The Weekly Standard
"Is there a scenario in which nuclear retaliation would be moral? Rosenbaum’s answer is a definitive no. Any reader of this upsetting book will be convinced that he’s right."
--Nathaniel Rich, The Daily Beast
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Journalist Ron Rosenbaum has been writing about his obsessive fascination with nuclear war since the mid-Seventies. In 1978, his long investigative piece for Harper's, "The Subterranean World of the Bomb," for which he was allowed unprecedented access to highly restricted military facilities, including the SAC War Room Command Balcony and a Minuteman silo launch capsule, is widely considered to be a classic of its genre. That he should have to continue writing about this subject 33 years later, long after the fall of these weapons' intended target nation, is, to say the least, troubling. In fact, it's downright terrifying.
How the End Begins reprises one of the Harper's article's central themes: the question first posed by Air Force Major Harold Hering, a decorated Vietnam veteran in training for a job as a ICBM "missileer," namely, "What safeguards exist to prevent a launch officer from receiving an unlawful launch order, such as one given by an insane Commander-in-Chief or an enemy infiltrator into the command and control system?Read more ›
My feelings are mixed after having read the book. The first half roughly was full of eye-opening tidbits of nuclear history and gave a good glimpse of how command and control of nukes is carried out, and some of the weaknesses of that (or any) system. Also examined were the most likely hotspots where nuclear war could eventually break out; namely Israel and Pakistan. So all-in-all it was a fairly intriguing review of a swath of nuclear issues and history.
The problems arose for me when the author continually (and perhaps irresistibly) injected himself into the narrative. True, much of the book is intentionally comprised of musings by the author, but there are restrained and unrestrained ways of going about that. Read the NYT review of the book and you'll see some good examples of the latter. In the end though, I just couldn't stand the incessant stream of rhetorical questions. It also reminded me in places of some papers I had written in college where I stuffed more and more fluff in just to meet a page minimum. There's a lot of self-referencing and empty, bombastic language. I could just see Rosenbaum patting himself on the back for a particularly slick turn of phrase.
By the second half of the book I had become very frustrated. I couldn't read or think about nuclear issues anymore without Ron Rosenbaum's ego shoved in my face.Read more ›
Without a doubt, "How the End Begins" is the most interesting book on nuclear weapons that I've read in a long time. In this book, Mr. Rosenbaum becomes a sort of Dante, descending into the depths of nuclear hell and returning to tell the tale. It is a true story that should alarm us all and catalyze global society into taking action to provide for better security against nuclear threats, not the least of which is the threat of our own politicians and strategists who still follow the outmoded doctrine of the Cold War.
At its best, this book offers some very useful suggestions for how the USA and Russia can move away from hair-trigger alerts with their nuclear arsenals. At its worst, Mr. Rosenbaum occasionally treats the scariest possible scenario as though it were reality. This is particularly so in the cases dealing with Syria and Israel, but Mr. Rosenbaum is nonetheless honest about his strong personal emotions toward Israel, and I certainly don't blame him for how he feels.
The negative review of this book that asserts that 'zeroers will find much to like' is incorrect, and I'd like to set the record straight. This book is very skeptical of the Global Zero movement's efficacy, though Mr. Rosenbaum clearly takes moral sides with those who equate nuclear war to genocide, and people like Bruce Blair, the movement's founder, who would like to see global arsenals de-alerted.
What makes this book shine is that it is written by a non-technical but extremely knowledgeable nuclear outsider who cares more about people than about mega-tonnage and throw-weight. After learning about these arcane things myself, I am convinced that Mr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This extremely troubling but vitally important book made me lose sleep. The book should be required reading for every political, military, and diplomatic leader on earth, now and... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael Powell
Excellent and irreplaceable. Mr. Rosenbaum's voice is one of the few rational ones left.Published 21 months ago by Kari Ann Owen
Good work Mr. Rosenbaum. After I lost the refrence, I got scared. I thought people didn't know what to believe for religious and moral reasons. Read morePublished on July 26, 2014 by Daniel Silver
Interesting Speculations what mankind, or foolish nations might Do
to really upset Humanity & Life. The USSR changed w/ Gorby.. but there
are still too many N. Read more
I agree very much with Marvin Aberle's review above, but I give this book two stars, not three.
The book raises some interesting and thought-provoking questions, but... Read more