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Five Myths about Nuclear Weapons

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  54 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Most of us think there's nothing new to say about nuclear weapons. Yes, they're horrible, possibly immoral, and definitely dangerous, but they feel necessary. If force is the final arbiter between nations, and nuclear bombs are the most powerful weapons, then we're basically stuck with them. Aren't we?
In this groundbreaking book, Ward Wilson delivers a resounding "No." Bl
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 15th 2013 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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This is a very interesting and succinct essay and very clearly written. However, I don't think the author quite makes his case. At the end he claims that the nuclear weapons do not have a special power to overawe their opponents (example Japan 1945) and that they might not be decisive in war.

Wilson argues that Japan surrendered because the USSR entered the war against them, not because of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think his arguments are very convincing though the documentary evidence he present
Bob Anderson
Wilson’s thesis is that our societal maxims about nuclear weapons are not proven facts but instead myths constructed in retrospective through a combination of wishful thinking, self-aggrandizement, and rationalizing away of faults. He pokes through these myths with very well chosen historical evidence, and argues for a more rational approach to determining what value and use nuclear weapons actually have. Since the book is short and valuable enough, I’ll summarize each myth: first, although we t ...more
I dived into this expecting to rate it higher, and for some reason I feel guilty for not being able to do so. Perhaps it is because I felt myself arguing fiercely, internally, with not only his extrapolations, but many of the precepts he based them on as well. Before I elaborate, note that I have a specific and perhaps different background regarding the subject of Japan, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and nuclear weaponry. This past December, I went on a research trip to the country I had wanted to visit ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This is a very short book about myths of nuclear weapons. The author contends 1. Nuclear weapons weren't the cause of Japans surrender but more likely Russia's declaration of war against Japan in the summer of 45. 2. Nuclear deterence is reliable in a crisis, The author argues that in the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Yom Kippur War, and The Gulf war in 1990 luck was more important than any deterrent of nukes. 3. Nukes brought about the long peace from 1945 to the present, The author argues that ot ...more
A good quick read, and thought-provoking from beginning to end. Not exhaustively argued, but with enough nuance to at least make one consider the questions at hand: did the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki really end the Second World War (and does strategic bombing really work?)? Who was really the aggressor nation, pushing the world to the brink in the Cuban missile crisis (and what does that say about the wisdom of relying on "deterrence"?)? And more...
Mike Gabor
The author of this book says that there are 5 myths concerning nuclear weapons. They are as follows:

• that nuclear weapons necessarily shock and awe opponents, including Japan at the end of World War II
• that nuclear deterrence is reliable in a crisis
• that destruction wins wars
• that the bomb has kept the peace for sixty-five years
• and that we can’t put the nuclear genie back in the bottle

While I don't necessarly agree with all the points he makes I will say that he has given you reason to thi
Amber the Human
Great book. Short and to the point - doesn't get bogged down with what we should be doing, or technical whatnot, or confusing war tactics. He makes points that make sense and are both disturbing and inspiring. This book reminded me of a Malcolm Gladwell book, in the sense that you read it and you're like 'OMG - everyone needs to read this and the world will change for the better!' but you can't make everyone read it. Sigh. But I wish they would!
Matt Heavner
This is a thought provoking read which brings up the cultural traditions and mythologies concerning the role of and investment in nuclear weapons. This is an important revisit and part of a needed discussion. A straight on look at nukes in the context of their use, their politics, their assumptions, etc. Sometimes depressing but the book ended on a nice note of hope for a new dialogue and better future.
Nathan Nipp
Thought-provoking book about the history of nuclear weapons. Actually more of a counter-history to the understood narrative, starting with an alternate theory about the reason Japan surrendered and how this shaped the way we viewed nuclear weapons.
This book raises serious questions about the viability of nuclear deterrence and the usefulness of nuclear weapons. Many preconceived notions you have about nuclear weapons will have to be reexamined after reading this book.
This 187 page work has 59 of those as footnotes. As they said on "Dragnet", "...Facts, just the facts...".
Nenia Campbell
You can read more reviews at my blog, The Armchair Librarian!

This is a short informative read about nuclear weapons and some of the misunderstandings about them.

For people who are interested in war and military tactics, this would be a good choice. It's under 200 pages and goes by really quickly.

I think I would have liked this more if not for the political agenda behind it. Nuclear weapons are icky things and I don't like the idea of using them as threats or blackmail against other nations. I'm
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WARD WILSON is a senior fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He has spoken before governments and at think tanks and universities, including Stanford, Princeton, Georgetown, the Naval War College, and the United Nations.
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