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Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick
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What happens when the safeguards in a system fail to protect us? An unidentified flying object comes into American air space so all the military might is called up to identify it and protect the U.S. from it. Once the all-clear is given, one group of bombers don't step down. They continue as if there is still a problem and begin a flight to the Soviet Union to drop their bombs. Can the President get them back before they begin a war?

This is as timely know as it was in 1962. At the end of the book the President and Khrushchev are philosophizing about computers and man. Their conversation could occur today and be relevant. We still rely on computers and they are taking over our lives. I liked the questions this book raised and I have to admit I did not see the ending coming. I thought it would go the other way. Still relevant today. ( )
  Sheila1957 | Mar 25, 2019 |
Well written and tense. Slightly dated but still worth the read. Easier to follow if you imagine Henry Fonda as the president as in the 1964 film. ( )
  steve12553 | Jun 7, 2016 |
It’s exactly fifty years later and this book is still very powerful. I’ve seen the movie version with Henry Fonda a couple of times, knew exactly how the story ended, and I still couldn’t put it down and then cried at the end.

It’s the mid-sixties and the USA and USSR, mutually distrustful and each protected by huge stockpiles of weaponry, depend on multiple technological safeguards to ensure against accidental war. Civilian and military intellectuals from all sides engage in philosophical debates which inform national policy on armament, pre-emptive war, and nuclear policy. Swagger and the threat of annihilation are generally thought to be prohibitive of intentional war. But, of course, errors of machinery and human activity do occur, and here an unnoticed breakdown in a minor part of one machine mistakenly sends a group of bombers into the Soviet Union with orders to bomb Moscow. Unable to recall them, the President (presumably JFK) contacts Khrushchev, and the two must weigh their actions in the event the planes are successful.

Gripping, informative, and, finally, heartbreaking, and very highly recommended. ( )
1 vote auntmarge64 | Mar 6, 2012 |
I love this book. I see it as a parallel to the history of WWI, especially as related in John Keenan's "The First World War," as technology is developed and put into motion for the machinery of war without the means to stop it once the gears are turning. The movie, and the more recent TV remake, are both good dramatizations. Reading "Fail-Safe" can also give you the a great viewpoint to understand the story's darker, comedic counterpoint "Dr. Strangelove." ( )
  neildb | Nov 6, 2011 |
A terrifying tale of a thermonuclear accident.

A terrifying tale of our world tottering on the brink of a thermonuclear war. Within the SAC command located at Omaha, Nebraska, a mechanical failure occurs that send six Vindicator Bombers; each loaded with 40megaton nuclear bombs, pass their fail-safe point. Their target: Moscow. It's an accident and the generals and even the President tries to recall the bombers, but nothing works. It's a gripping tale and its almost unbearable as time ticks away and then the president must make a decision to stop the Russian retaliation which would surely result in global annihilation. Highly recommend. ( )
  LillyParks | Dec 20, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Burdick, Eugeneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wheeler, Harveymain authorall editionsconfirmed
Wheeler, Harveymain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Per WorldCat, ISBN 0670808725 is for A Catskill Eagle by Robert B. Parker.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 088001654X, Paperback)

Something has gone wrong. A group of American bombers armed with nuclear weapons is streaking past the fail-safe point, beyond recall, and no one knows why. Their destination -- Moscow.

In a bomb shelter beneath the White House, the calm young president turns to his Russian translator and says, "I think we are ready to talk to Premier Kruschchev." Not far away, in the War Room at the Pentagon, the secretary of defense and his aides watch with growing anxiety as the luminous blips crawl across a huge screen map. High over the Bering Strait in a large Vindicator bomber, a colonel stares in disbelief at the attack code number on his fail-safe box and wonders if it could possibly be a mistake.

First published in 1962, when America was still reeling from the Cuban missle crisis, Fail-Safe reflects the apocalyptic attitude that pervaded society during the height of the Cold War, when disaster could have struck at any moment. As more countries develop nuclear capabilities and the potential for new enemies lurks on the horizon, Fail-Safe and its powerful issues continue to respond.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:48 -0400)

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In a novel examining the question of accidental war, American planes fly past the point of recall to drop nuclear bombs on Moscow.

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