Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

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Penguin, Sep 17, 2013 - History - 656 pages
17 Reviews
**The documentary Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner, finds its origins in Eric Schlosser's book and continues to explore the little-known history of the management and safety concerns of America's nuclear aresenal.**

The documentary will air on PBS's American Experience on January 10th. 


A myth-shattering exposé of America’s nuclear weapons


Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved—and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.

Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policy makers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gregorybrown - LibraryThing

Having read a fair number of books about the Cold War and its arms race, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much new information was in Schlosser's COMMAND AND CONTROL, and how well it was all ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - buffalogr - LibraryThing

This is a book about the many times that the USA has had "bad" nuclear accidents...combined with a historical discussion and wrapped around one incident during 1980. I thought that the book was really ... Read full review

Contents

About COMMAND AND CONTROL
Not Good
No Lone Zones
Spheres Within Spheres
Potential Hazards
MACHINERY OF CONTROL
In Violation
Megadeath
The Brink
An Abnormal Environment
Balanced and Unbalanced
The Wrong Tape
Like Hell
Confirm or Deny
The
Epilogue

ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN
The Optimum Mix
Breaking
Decapitation
Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Eric Schlosser is the author of The New York Times bestsellers Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and The Nation.

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