Eric schlosser command and control

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eric schlosser command and control

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

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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Published 03.01.2019

Eric Schlosser: "Command and Control"

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Eric Schlosser

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

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Make sense of a disrupted world. Report a mispronounced word. Command and Control ranks among the most nightmarish books written in recent years; and in that crowded company it bids fair to stand at the summit. It is the more horrific for being so incontrovertibly right and so damnably readable. Page after relentless page, it drives the vision of a world trembling on the edge of a fatal precipice deep into your reluctant mind.

Eric Schlosser

Command and Control

O n 11 March , in Mars Bluff, South Carolina, a man called Walter Gregg was building shelves in his shed with his son, when a Mark 6 atom bomb landed in his yard. Mrs Gregg was inside, sewing. The little Gregg girls were playing outside. The fissile core of the bomb had been removed for safer transit, but the explosives that powered it nonetheless blew the Gregg house to bits, killing half a dozen of the Gregg chickens. In military talk this sort of thing is known as a "broken arrow", an accident involving nuclear weapons that falls short of causing risk of war, and Schlosser's book is about the several dozens of these that have happened — counting only those of US origin — since the atomic bomb was invented in

A little over 50 years ago a South Carolina doctor and the grandfather of this reviewer treated a family for injuries sustained when a sudden, inexplicable explosion tore through their backyard. The crater can still be seen today. Tactical nuclear weapons scattered across Europe had minimal security; misplaced tools and failed repairs triggered serious accidents; inadequate safety procedures and poor oversight led to dozens of close brushes with nuclear explosions. People have died in these accidents, sometimes as a result of their own carelessness or bad luck, but often while doing their best to protect the rest of us from an accidental nuclear blast. Constructing the complex systems needed for this task — linking radar sites and monitor stations around the world into a single network for analysis and control — was well beyond the technological capacity of American engineers for much of the cold war, but they did the best they could.

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