Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a missile silo in rural Arkansas, where a single crew struggled to prevent the explosion of the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States, with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years.
It depicts the urgent effort 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.
Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with men 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.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 656 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 03/07/2014
- Category: Nuclear weapons
- ISBN: 9780141037912
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Review by drmaf
This is a seriously scary book. If you slept comfortably at night thinking that America's nuclear arsenal was safely protected by layer upon layer of foolproof safeguards, you will abandon that delusion after reading this book. A sorry chronicle of America's progress through the nuclear age, backgrounded against the development of a potentially horrific incident in a Titan II silo in Arkansas, where a fuel leak caused by a dropped spanner escalated into a terrible explosion that killed one and injured many others. Had the warhead detonated, a large part of rural Arkansas would have been obliterated. Many other incidents are recounted in less detail, building up a picture of a broken system where bureaucrats and the military fight for control of the weapons, where its not even certain that anyone in command will be alive to launch the missiies in the event of a Russian nuclear strike, and where America's nuclear policy has swung wildly between mutual obliteration and postulating a limited, survivable nuclear exchange. This is not an entertaining book, but it is enthralling and is backed up with meticulously researched facts. Highly recommended.