Allen Lane £20.00
Review: Command and Control, By Eric Schlosser
Sunday 20 October 2013
We know the risks of nuclear holocaust did not end with the Cold War, but until recently we have remained in happy ignorance of just how accident-prone atomic bombs are. After mining controversies around junk food (in Fast Food Nation) and cannabis (Reefer Madness), Schlosser has now scrutinised the prospects of involuntary Armageddon.
Command and Control centres on the explosion of a Titan missile in an Arkansas silo in 1980. Schlosser’s account of the US Air Force teams battling to save the Titan is gripping. Luckily, the missile’s H-bomb did not detonate, but this incident was far from isolated – notably, in 1961 a B-52 accidentally dropped a bomb that could have spread lethal fallout over Washington and New York.
If Schlosser’s historical and technical context slows down his main action, the book as a whole is a salutary warning. He has scrutinised official documents to reveal the horrifying extent of the blunders. In 1957, US experts stated the chances of an accidental H-bomb explosion were one-in-five in each decade. Even this terrifying statistic was based on overly optimistic assumptions.
Almost 5,000 warheads remain in US hands. Worse, as Schlosser reminds us, today’s nuclear club contains several countries of dubious stability.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Game of Thrones actress Aimee Richardson begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
Cultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
The Walking Dead season 5 will see deaths of 'favourite characters', suggests Andrew Lincoln
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Secret Cinema Back to the Future, review: Interactive cinema experience finally arrives
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >