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The Partnership: Five Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb Hardcover – January 3, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 2007, four former Cold Warriors who helped build up the nation’s nuclear arsenal stunned the world by advocating for its elimination. The four—Henry Kissinger and George Schultz (former secretaries of state), William Perry (former defense secretary), and Sam Nunn (former head of the Senate Armed Services Committee)—were joined by nuclear physicist Sidney Drell to undo much that they had spent their careers doing in a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. The threat now is from stateless terrorists and more widespread access to nuclear materials and know-how, making the U.S. more vulnerable to attack with nuclear weapons. Award-winning journalist Taubman chronicles their journey from Cold War–era nuclear advocates to opponents, detailing their personal perspectives, careers, and the politics of the administrations in which they served. Strong personalities with political and ideological differences that provoke tensions, the men, now in their seventies and eighties, have nevertheless persisted in a campaign for nuclear disarmament. Taubman puts their campaign into historical perspective, contrasting the politics of the Cold War with the increasing threat of nuclear terrorism and the way 9/11 has changed the political equation. --Vanessa Bush


“A fascinating, haunting book. . . . Even for skeptics, Taubman’s book provides an important public service by concentrating on nuclear perils that continue to slip our day-to-day notice. . . . Thought-provoking.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“A fascinating portrait of an unlikely coalition of disarmament crusaders . . . . Mr. Taubman describes in chilling detail the threat of these terrible weapons falling into the worst possible hands.” (The Wall Street Journal)

“An even-handed look at a convoluted history that is still unfolding. . . . Taubman does a clean job of reducing the elements to layman’s terms. . . . Taubman had unparalleled access to the five men profiled here. . . . It makes for intriguing reading.” (The Los Angeles Times)

“Taubman ably revisits many of the classic set pieces of the Cold War-the Cuban missile crisis, the Jasons scientific-advisory team, the nuclear alert during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, and the 1986 Reagan-Gorbachev summit at Reykjavik.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

“This brilliant, penetrating study of nuclear threats is in the tradition of David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan. Taubman has, perhaps as importantly, unlocked the history of the war we never had. Readers will tremble at the dangers the world has faced and still faces today.” (Bob Woodward)

“Taubman provides a cogent and chilling summary of the threat of nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century.” (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Partnership artfully weaves the threads of five notable lives into a fascinating account of nuclear strategizing over the last five decades. This unfailingly compelling narrative is indispensable reading for all who would understand the desperate urgency of containing the menace of nuclear proliferation.” (David Kennedy, Professor of History Emeritus, Stanford University)

“A richly detailed account of one of the most important issues of our time, The Partnership should be on the bedside of every presidential candidate, national affairs journalist and engaged citizen.” (Tom Brokaw)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006174400X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061744006
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,885,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ash Jogalekar TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Philip Taubman's book details the efforts of five men to abolish nuclear weapons. Coming from anyone else this would sound like a pipe-dream dreamt up by pacifist idealists but George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, Bill Perry and Sidney Drell are stalwart Cold Warriors, immensely experienced statesmen and scientific experts who have safeguarded America's national interests for decades. These gentlemen have struggled with the problems of nuclear proliferation for a long time and have now come up with an audacious sounding but concrete proposal to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

How important they consider the problem to be is evident from the fact that two of them are lifelong Republicans and the other two are lifelong Democrats. Clearly they see their mission as wholly non-partisan, a cause that is of paramount importance to all of humanity. It's heartening to see these men put aside their political differences for the common good. As Taubman tells us, the members of the group have diverse backgrounds. Schultz, Kissinger and Nunn are seasoned politicians while Drell and Perry have been experts in the technical aspects of warfare and nuclear weapons. But while their paths to non-proliferation and interests have been varied, the common thread binding them is their understanding of the risks and irrationally deeply embedded in the existence and use of nuclear weapons.

As Taubman documents, each man was shaped at crucial phases of his career by the realization that the slightest of miscalculation or misunderstanding could start a global thermonuclear war. Some of them lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis when the two superpowers came within a hairsbreadth of nuclear conflict. They also saw how poorly guarded weapons and fissile material were around the world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great read and worth it just for the extended bio's of these five who lived interesting lives.
But the quest to ban nuclear weapons has a pretty strong feel of Don Quixote. It's not clear anyone now in power in any of the nuclear weapon states match their fervor for the quest.

And it just may be the lack of interest is because of something the author was either too polite to bring up with the five or just not be aware of.

During the Cold War the U.S. renounced the use of biological warfare. We physically shut down and then dismantled our bioweapons programs and destroyed our stocks of these weapons. The Soviet Union signed the Biological Weapons Convention treaty in 1975 and agreed to do the same. Instead, the Soviets hid their program and in violation of the disarmament treaty they signed began a massive buildup of weaponized biological agents - anthrax, smallpox, etc.

The Soviet Union built a weapons program that was as large as their nuclear weapons program - except we knew _nothing_ about it. Nothing. They were able to hide a weapons program that had ~65,000 thousand people working on it without us knowing about it, let alone talking about ending it (because they claimed they already had.) See "The Soviet Biological Weapons Program: A History" by Leitenberg, Zilinskas and Kuhn.

Our intelligence system failed. Our arms control treaties were negotiated with someone lying to our faces and laughing behind our backs. The consequences for our country and the world could have been horrific.

These five cold warriors were intimately involved with that failure of intelligence and those arms reduction treaties. I am all for any program that results in the massive reduction of weaponizable fissile material. However, at a minimum these five should address why if we couldn't see a weapons program as large as the Soviet Bioweapons program, why it won't happen again on the path to nuclear abolition.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Taubman sheds a lot of light on the progression of these men's careers and how they came to advocate nuclear disarmament and abolition of these relics of the Cold War. He added quite a bit more to what transpired at Reykjavik between Reagan & Gorbachev when we lost another "best chance" to eliminate the nuclear threat we all face. Nuclear weapons no longer serve any rational purpose or have any military utility, and Schultz, Kissinger, Nunn, Perry, and Drell who were all Cold Warriors now see the dangers and futility of maintaining nuclear weapons in a changed world, and how the greater threat today is the possibility of nuclear terrorism unless all nations work together to safeguard and eliminate fissile material and warheads. A very good read, and I appreciated learning more about Sam Nunn's earlier life and career here in Middle Georgia. A must read for anyone in the anti-nuclear weapons advocacy.
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Taubman does an excellent job of describing the main characters (Kissinger, Nunn, Perry and Schultz) and how they became interested in a world without nuclear weapons. Getting to zero is recognized as a very difficult challenge and Taubman has done a good job of discussing the pros and cons as he leads the reader through the thoughts of the "four horsemen". Good read.
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