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The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  165 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The culminating volume in Richard Rhodes’s monumental and prizewinning history of nuclear weapons, offering the first comprehensive narrative of the challenges faced in a post–Cold War age.

The past twenty years have transformed our relationship with nuclear weapons drastically. With extraordinary depth of knowledge and understanding, Rhodes makes clear how the five origina
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 24th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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James Murphy
Sep 02, 2013 James Murphy rated it really liked it
"Nuclear weapons, never weapons of warfare except in the grandiose imaginations of air-power fantasists, have reverted to their original function: They are terror weapons. Are we terrorists?"

One of the many questions and conclusions in Richard Rhodes's The Twilight of the Bombs. Rhodes is acclaimed for his histories of the nuclear age: The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Dark Sun, and Arsenals of Folly. This 2010 study completes his history of the nuclear age with an account of events which have occu
Adam Robinson
Aug 08, 2014 Adam Robinson rated it liked it
It's hard to do better than your best. This is the fourth and last book in Rhodes' study on nuclear weapons. Unfortunately nothing will ever compare to his Pulitzer prize winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which if you have not read, then stop right now and go read it. No seriously, it's that good. It's probably the best history book I've ever read.

Which is what makes this book so disappointing. To be fair, the myriad story lines Rhodes tackles in this book aren't nearly as compelling as th
May 30, 2012 Ilya rated it liked it
Shelves: nuclear-weapons
The end of the Cold War did not end the history of nuclear weapons, the subject of Rhodes's earler books. There were more thrilling stories involving them. Iraq tried to build nuclear weapons; after it lost the 1990-1991 war, the victors tried to disarm it. A cat-and-mouse game between weapons inspectors and Iraqi officials followed. Aerial photographs of Iraqi facilities showed fifteen-foot-wide metal disks. No one knew what they were until a 69-year-old veteran of the Manhattan Project said th ...more
Apr 11, 2011 Bruce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The history of atomic weapons in the past three decades as the victorious powers of the Second World War have unsuccessfully attempted to keep other notions from developing them. He then looks at the nations who have developed them and the ones that have deliberately disarmed and either abandoned their development programs, and in one case, South Africa, which destroyed all its weapons. Finally, he makes a case for the destruction of all of them. His case is two fold. They are useless as weapons ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Ben rated it it was amazing
And so ends one of the best quadrilogies ever known. The final installation in Rhodes's set of books chronicling the history of nuclear weapons, this book covered (roughly) from the end of the Cold War through to about early 2010--though it really finished up with the debacle following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. As with the other three books, Rhodes's clear, engaging prose lays out the extensive research he's conducted in a coherent, easy to understand logic and manner. Especially following t ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Oct 11, 2010 Bookmarks Magazine rated it really liked it
Shelves: nov-dec-2010
Merging a scientist's attention to detail with a storyteller's flair for narrative drive and characterization, Rhodes has penned "an apt conclusion to an epic undertaking" (Kansas City Star). Filled with fascinating facts and anecdotes, The Twilight of the Bombs not only provides a fresh perspective on otherwise familiar recent events but also reveals significant, little-known episodes in the struggle for nonproliferation, reading at times "like a Tom Clancy novel" (Christian Science Monitor). T ...more
Bob Finch
Jul 27, 2015 Bob Finch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Last of Rhodes' series on nuclear weapons (and the 2nd I've read) is an excellent history of the post-Cold War era and the ever-diminishing role of nuclear weapons in national security. Not so gripping as the author's first book in this series, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," but similarly informative and insightful. Rhodes has a chilling way of pointing up our follies and hypocrisies. I hope he is correct to predict the immanent demise of these indiscriminately destructive weapons.
Jan 06, 2013 Mark rated it liked it

Not nearly as fascinating as his other works on this topic. It seemed to me that only the last 75 pages truly dealt with the subject, to wit, "Recent challenges, new dangers, and the prospects for a world without nuclear weapons.". This book does provide a very good historical summary of the post Cold War period including extensive material on the War with Iraq and inspections leading up to the war. What is missing is similar details/depth on US policy in regard to North Korea, Iran, China and
Pierre Lauzon
Jul 28, 2015 Pierre Lauzon rated it liked it
The Twilight of the Bombs is the third volume of Richard Rhodes’ trilogy on the history of the nuclear age. The first two (The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb) are more compelling and better books. The Twilight of the Bombs does a credible job in bringing the reader up to date on efforts toward containment and disarmament and posits a nuclear weapon free world in the future.

The book was published in September 2011 and is now dated.
May 31, 2016 David rated it liked it
Shelves: nuclear, weapons, iraq, bombs
The 4th in his series. The books went from best to worst in the order that they were written. This was the weakest of the bunch.
Matt Heavner
May 04, 2012 Matt Heavner rated it liked it
This is primarily a depressing read, but it is also hopeful (the conclusion that we will manage to get rid of all nukes). This covers the period from about the collapse of the Soviet Union through ~2010. It covers keeping all the Soviet nukes, scientist, and infrastructure under control; the IAEA and UN inspections of Iraq, a bit about North Korea, South Africa, Iran, etc. It is really critical of Bush junior. During the first ~half of the book, I felt that there was too much "non-nuke" detail, ...more
Jan 17, 2011 William rated it it was amazing
Rhodes level of detailed research is--as always--extraordinary and enlightening without delving down to levels of trivia that would be uninteresting to many.

The background on various nuclear weapons projects is very detailed and interesting and builds well on some of his earlier works.

The walk-away conclusions offered here I found less compelling than the rest of the book but the questions posed in this book concerning nuclear disarmament are questions that are well worth discussion and thought.
Nov 09, 2011 Stuart rated it really liked it
Some fascinating insights into the WMD inspections in Iraq and lead up to the occupation of Iraq and the also the part the US played in making safe of the Soviet nuclear arsenal after the break-up of the USSR. I didn't realise how Richard Rhodes actually became part of the story he was documenting when weapons inspectors recognised the machinery of the Iraqi nuclear program installation based on descriptions of early US attempts at refining Uranium that he described in "The Making of the Atomic ...more
Feb 01, 2011 Sandra rated it really liked it
This didactice story of the bomb is part history and part thriller.

Filled with renegade weapons inpectors, Rhodes manages to weave a fascinating and educational final story in the trilogy of the bomb and nuclear weapons. I found it a surprisingly easy book to read filled with many unknown facts about nuclear weapons as well as the political history around nuclear weapons including the USA's invasion of Iraq under the Bush Jr. administration.
Dave Main
An excellent finale of the series. All of Rhode's books about nuclear weapons are excellent, but this one has the most meaning for our present lives. We are living with nuclear weapons that the military doesn't want, are horrendously expensive to maintain ($50B a year), and make us less secure.

The book also details how wrong things went in global negotiations during the Bush administration. Heartbreaking stupidity that caused more proliferation.
Apr 19, 2013 Kimbolimbo rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I recommend actually reading this than listening because there are a lot of acronyms and the story doesn't progress in a linear fashion hopping around in time and country. I really wish I had a timeline to refer to while listening because I kept getting confused. But the discussion and stories about nuclear development in various countries around the world was fascinating. Especially because I am fascinated by North Korea right now.
Great book to complete one of the best series of books about our nuclear weapons.
Feb 14, 2011 Motorcycle rated it it was ok
There was a lot of information I didn't know before I read it. It was interesting on one level. But I wasn't captivated by the stories in it like I am with the stuff I've read by Ron Suskind and Sebastian Junger. But I guess it's good to know. It was worth reading.
Louis C Smith
Jun 06, 2013 Louis C Smith rated it it was amazing
must read for nuclear literacy.
Rhodes makes it clear that the continued presence of nuclear weapons, the continued confrontation with North Korea, and the $3 trillion cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the legacy of conservative Republicans.
Jun 21, 2011 Noladishu rated it liked it
Great narrative of the early UNSCOM/IAEA efforts in Iraq. Reads almost like a thriller.

The politics and public policy part sort of bogs down the rest, but that's the way the history was.
Noah Richardson
Jan 17, 2012 Noah Richardson rated it it was amazing
terse explanation of post-cold war nuclear situations up 'till now (2011). a must-read.
Oct 17, 2012 Alain rated it really liked it

This is fascinating book.
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Richard Lee Rhodes is an American journalist, historian, and author of both fiction and non-fiction (which he prefers to call "verity"), including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986), and most recently, Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (2007). He has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation a ...more
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