The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics
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The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  42 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A leading international security strategist offers a compelling new way to "think about the unthinkable."

The cold war ended more than two decades ago, and with its end came a reduction in the threat of nuclear weapons—a luxury that we can no longer indulge. It’s not just the threat of Iran getting the bomb or North Korea doing something rash; the whole complexion of global...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Times Books
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Peter Mcloughlin
this book is a scary book. It looks at a gap in our military outlook. The cold war is now looked at as deviation from rationality with huge nuclear arsenal. This view is taken on the cold war because people only remember the deterence aspect of nuclear policy. Nuclear weapons are sought after by states for many reasons besides simple deterence. The possesion of a nuclear arsenal not only deters against invasion but also gives a country offensive capability. A country can act more agressively aga...more
Daniel Mccarthy
This book is a splash of cold water to the face for those of us raised in the Cold War. While we in the United States have lost our focus on the geopolitical implications of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War world, the rest of the world hasn't, with Pakistan, North Korea and India starting or expanding nuclear programs and Iran poised to join the nuclear club. This book is a welcome reminder that nuclear strategy is still immensely important and that we have taken a 20 year holiday from think...more
Steve Smits
Professor Bracken brings needed attention to the nuclear issues and dangers facing the world in the post-Cold War era. He demonstrates that our current policy on nuclear arms, while focusing on the important matter of non-proliferation, significantly neglects to strategically analyze and respond to the reality that nuclear weapons exist (and won't go away) in the Middle East, South Asia and East Asia. The presence of nuclear weapons in countries like Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea -- and l...more
Paul Bracken of Yale University argues that we are in a second nuclear age (the first starting with Hiroshima through the Cold War) and that we need to pay more attention to nuclear weapons and how they will change crisis development & escalation. Bracken argues that continuation of Cold War thinking & policies is destined to fail. He argues that we need serious strategic innovation to deal with this new multi-polar nuclear environment; we have been too complacent in our thinking and hav...more
Heather Marie
I agreed with his conclusions about needing to change our thinking about nuclear policy, and the shift in regional dynamics, but I also wholeheartedly disagree with much of his evidence. He makes the US out to be much more apathetic toward nuclear weapons than it actually is, and I feel that he plays down the importance of first strike capabilities, the US' arsenal, and the nuclear taboo to make his point. It is more of a 3.5 for me, but since I do agree with his ends, I gave him the benefit.
Lee Spitzer
Paul Bracken from Yale University urges us to think more systematically and creatively about the role nuclear weapons are playing in the twenty-first century, which he characterizes as being part of the second nuclear age.

Stylistically, the book is non-technical and quite readable, but he repeats himself too often; a good editor could have shortened his argument by several dozen pages. The charts are almost insulting in their simplicity; were they taken from poorly designed powerpoint presentati...more
John Schneider
When I picked this book up, I expected a dry but insightful look at nuclear strategy for the 21st century. "The Second Nuclear Age" was far more interesting and much more engaging than I expected; it was also quite succinct in its analysis which enabled it to cover a great deal of ground without repetition. If you are looking for an exhaustive analysis of nuclear strategy and every scenario imaginable, look elsewhere. If you are looking for a book that introduces you to a new way of thinking up...more
Jul 12, 2014 Sherri rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!
For those of us who grew up with the cold war, this is a must-read to understand the changed landscape of nuclear weapons and war. MAD may be more unlikely, but maddening behavior by young nuclear states is happening more than we think. For those who are too young to remember the cold war, it's a primer to nuclear war, weapons, tactics and strategy for the current nuclear age. Nuclear weapons are very much alive and spreading. The major powers need strong new policies, strategy and tactics that...more
Thank you for my First Reads copy!
The two stars are for writing quality. I suppose the author was aiming to make this an easy read for a general audience, but what he achieved was immature writing. I couldn't get past it because it affected the tone of the book, which should have been urgent and frightening.
Dave Leaumont
Good comprehensive discussion on the topic of nuclear strategy and how 21st century thought has changed that of the Cold War. The world has grown increasingly more complex and dangerous since that time and there are many nuclear hurdles to overcome to continue 67 years of peace from major wars.
After twenty years of *not* thinking about deterrence, mutual-assured destruction and the rest, Bracken makes me rethink nuclear weapons. His opinions about war, peace, and international diplomacy are ruthless but stunning. Excellent read, with provocative conclusions.
Jim Powell
A sobering book on the dynamics of the multipolar, post-Cold War nuclear world. Bracken makes a strong case for thinking through the relatively unexplored issues of how nuclear powers--large or small--might use these weapons in pursuit of their interests.
Louis C Smith
Bracken shows that the US nuclear policy is stuck in the 1960 Cold War. The 2nd nuclear age is here and the US is facing the wrong direction. A must read if you expect to be around more than 10 years.
Craig Fiebig
We treat the use of nuclear weapons in a simplistic, ignorant manner and pretend the lessons of the Cold War are applicable in the multi polar world at our peril.
Mar 30, 2014 C. added it
Shelves: ir, nukes
when asked why France needed an independent nuclear deterrent, de Gaulle famously shot back, "so we get incurred to arms control conferences."
Mary Storm
Worth reading. At times repetitive and pedantic, but also discusses the post-Cold War issues of nuclear proliferation about which we should all know.
Randi Buros
Not an exhaustive treatment, but an excellent discussion on the more subtle uses (and non-uses) of national military power.
interesting; makes a wide range of good arguments a little too oppositionally
Apr 03, 2013 PWRL marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2013-new
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