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Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe Paperback – July 14, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
I am a great fan of suspense thrillers and novels about spies, espionage, and international crises and disasters. How I wish that Allison's book was just another of my exciting leisure-time fictional entertainments! But, unfortunately, this book is nonfiction: a serious, indeed extremely serious, and sober, discussion of the threat we face called "nuclear terrorism." For example, one "dirty bomb," which simply consists of conventional explosives dispersing radioactive materials, exploded in downtown Manhattan, would make the island uninhabitable for years and result in many thousands of deaths from the immediate blast, from radiation poisoning over time, and from the immediate panic it would cause at the outset. And note: these radioactive materials are readily available in many medical and industrial facilities and, of course, explosives are so easy to obtain that they often fall into the hands of knowledgeable teenagers.
Scary? Of course. But that's not the worst possibility that Allison discusses in his book.Read more ›
Where will this bomb come from? Graham Allison, the founding dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, an expert on nuclear proliferation, gives these likely possibilities: from the inadequately accounted for Russian arsenal, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran's incipient program, or the bomb may be made from fissile material available on the black market. Allison makes it abundantly clear that how to make a bomb is not a problem. The information is readily available on the Web.
The question that daunts me is how will the US know for sure where the bomb originated and who planted it? It doesn't seem possible that after a nuclear explosion there could be a forensic signature in the rubble. Herein lies a big problem. Suppose the US thinks the bomb came from Russia, sold to Al Qaeda by a disgruntled group of ex-Soviet scientists and military people. How does the US retaliate? Bomb Russia? That would usher in a very quick WWIII with consequences too horrific to contemplate. Bomb western Pakistan where bin Laden may (or may not) be hiding? That seems pathetic.Read more ›
It is an amazing story and one that all Americans should be aware of. Most remarkable, however, is the description of how an attack can be prevented/stopped. Not with some pie-in-the-sky solution but rather with very specific actions the government could take.
Again, I urge all Americans to read this book and then write to their congressmen about it. As an ER nurse with twenty five years experience, I can tell you that should a nuclear attack of any magnitude occur there will not be much we can do for you. Now is the time to stop that possibility and Dr.Allison's book gives us guidelines to do so.
The answer must be that it isn't so easy after all. But that doesn't provide much reassurance---if it was too difficult for al Qaeda in 2001, can we sure it will be beyond the means of al Qaeda's successors ten years later? Of course, we cannot be sure, and that makes Allison's wake-up call valuable. More nuclear material is being created, often in unreliable or unstable hands (Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, possibly lost in Russia).
Allison's solutions are obvious and sensible: ensure that no new nuclear powers are created, disarm North Korea, make sure tight control is maintained over existing nuclear material, some of which is now scattered and poorly controlled in research reactors around the world and possibly also in Russia.
Unfortunately, this book is long on these generalities and short on specifics. The devil is in the details: How do we disarm North Korea, keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and keep Pakistan's (and Russia's) from falling into the hands of terrorists?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Don't read this book if you want to sleep soundly every night. I guess we all know of some of the potential risks of the time we are in but to see them quantified is a real eye... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Al in MBK
I have read this book several times and gotten copies of it for family and friends.Published 22 months ago by Richard H. Place
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the original NPR broadcast interview with author Graham Allison back when "the Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe" was first released. Read morePublished on May 22, 2014 by CharlesB
As we race toward disengagement from Afghanistan, believing so strongly in our anti war religion, we ought to take a clear eyed look at the people that are about to come into... Read morePublished on March 3, 2011 by James Bishop
By concentrating on the key vulnerabilities, Mr. Graham does a wonderful job of framing a difficult issue, which has largely been considered "unthinkable" and ignored by... Read morePublished on May 15, 2009 by B. Rosen
Graham Allison's nuclear terrorism prevention strategy is a perceptive and tough look at a nagging problem of grave national importance. Read morePublished on December 12, 2008 by Thomas W. Sulcer
Nuclear terrorism, according to Warren Buffet, who should be adept in evaluating the probability of future events. He goes on to say, "It will happen. Read more
One of the best books on the subject. Without a lot of hype and drama, the author captures the danges from this threat. Read morePublished on June 6, 2008 by Thomas W. Spoehr
We were surprised by 9/11 even though we should not have been. Let's not be surprised by a nuclear version that wipes an American (or Russian, or Israeli) city off the map -- and... Read morePublished on May 8, 2008 by MARTIN HELLMAN