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Bomb Scare: The History and Future of…

Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons

by Joseph Cirincione

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This slim volume is a good introductory text to the history and politics of Nuclear Proliferation and the challenges that face today’s non-proliferation. Cirincione's text is clearly written as an introduction to the subject, but he does the reader the favor of not dumbing down the policy aspects of proliferation any more than is necessary for a 157 page survey of the subject.

The opening chapters are an engaging history of "The Bomb" and attempts to control it, including main scientific and political players in the development of the nuclear weapon, sprinkled with just enough physics to carry the reader through the more nitty-gritty aspects of the non-proliferation agreements that are discussed later in the book.

The rest of the book discussed the theories behind the motivations of proliferation and non-proliferation as well as the challenges that face the current non-proliferation regime. This section is alternately horrifying and hopeful, and the reader is left with many directions in which to think and research.

Well footnoted with a helpful glossary. ( )
  ebenlindsey | May 29, 2008 |
Like many other people, I heard the interview with Joseph Cirincione on NPR (Fresh Air, 21 MAR 07). I was quite impressed with his depth of knowledge and his ability to articulate an argument. In short, he was quite well spoken. I found his writing equally articulate.

The book covers the history of nuclear weapons, starting with the famous letter to FDR, the development of the first weapon and dropping it on Japan, the Cold War, and into modern day. He describes five reasons nations want a nuclear arsenal (Security, Prestige, Domestic Politics, Technology, and Economics). Each of these five areas are defined and described and he provides examples of each one. He then shows how those same five reasons cause nations to not want nuclear weapons. Again, examples are provided.

Woven throughout the book is a history and explanation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the supporting treaties, acts, policies, etc. Cirincione explains how it works, what works, what doesn't and why. It is his contention that the entire NPT house-of-cards is close to collapse but that it could be saved and made stronger. He also looks at US policy on nuclear weapons, showing how the US government has viewed them and the policy put forth by each President.

I should say that I have not read extensively in this area so I can't speak to his accuracy and conclusions however, I found his arguments well-thought and abundantly supported and documented. The book is short, only 157 pages in the body plus acknowledgments, introduction, glossary, end notes, and index. I suppose that would make it more of a "monograph" than a "book." It follows the new fad of printing on odd size paper (9x5 inches) so it looks out-of-place in your shelf line. I find the bulls-eye on the cover evocative of a mushroom cloud. ( )
  cawilliams | May 22, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231135106, Hardcover)

Since their inception, nuclear weapons have multiplied at an alarming rate, leaving everyone from policymakers to concerned citizens wondering what it will take to slow, stop, or even reverse their spread. With clarity and expertise, Joseph Cirincione presents an even-handed look at the history of nuclear proliferation and an optimistic vision of its future, providing a comprehensive survey of the wide range of critical perspectives.

Cirincione begins with the first atomic discoveries of the 1930s and covers the history of their growth all the way to current crisis with Iran. He unravels the science, strategy, and politics that have fueled the development of nuclear stockpiles and increased the chance of a nuclear terrorist attack. He also explains why many nations choose not to pursue nuclear weapons and pulls from this the outlines of a solution to the world's proliferation problem: a balance of force and diplomacy, enforcement and engagement that yields a steady decrease in these deadly arsenals.

Though nuclear weapons have not been used in war since August 1945, there is no guarantee this good fortune will continue. A unique blend of history, theory, and security analysis, Bomb Scare is an engaging text that not only supplies the general reader and student with a clear understanding of this issue but also provides a set of tools policymakers and scholars can use to prevent the cataclysmic consequences of another nuclear attack.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:16 -0400)

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