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

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  7,488 Ratings  ·  1,029 Reviews
The New Yorker
“Excellent... hair-raising... Command and Control is how nonfiction should be written.” (Louis Menand)

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A ground-breaking account of accidents, near-misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control ex
Hardcover, 656 pages
Published September 17th 2013 by Penguin Press (first published October 1st 2009)
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Dr. Strangelove justly remains a true cornerstone of satire in film for many reasons, but a chief among them is the absurdity of its subject matter, and its roots in an uncomfortable truth. The sheer destructive potential of nuclear arsenals could be unleashed by an individuals' lunacy or accident. This book is about the latter.

This book has two interwoven narratives - the first is about a specific accident at an Arkansas nuclear silo in 1980, but also the history of nuclear accidents and disast
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This book is the stuff of nightmares.

You no doubt assume, for your own peace of mind, that the potentially world-ending weapons in the United States' nuclear arsenal have always been carefully controlled, guarded and implanted with the best safeguards available. That they have been obsessively tracked by the military, and subjected to the strictest controls imaginable. That at all times they have been handled with the fear and care that city-vaporizing ordinance is due.

Your assumption is incor
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have a fascination with the history of the US atomic weapons program, based not on the macabre destructive power of those weapons, but on the combination of brilliant minds, difficult problems and absolute secrecy. So this book scratches an itch of mine.

Command and Control is a sobering look at the failures of the Atomic Age - accidents, careless errors and bureaucratic mishaps involving devices that could level a city. Some of them came very close. One accident in particular provides the narr
Rob Adey
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about the many, many times the world has come *this close* to nuclear armageddon and somehow, Eric Schlosser has managed to make it a really boring one.

It's crushed by the weight of its own research - I'm all for underground silos, but I don't need to know what colour all the walls are painted.

Human interest is injected via tiny, CV-like biogs. Those of the accident victims end with the age of their wife and the number of kids they had - presumably there's a formula you can use to
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was an interesting but ultimately slightly boring look into America's nuclear weapons and how close they are to destroying all of us. Ben really highly recommended this book, so perhaps my expectations were too high, but I did find the technical descriptions to go on (and on) just a little too long. And though Schlosser is often talking about life-and-death scenarios, his descriptions are often bloodless, erring on the side of being technically perfect but then ultimately losing a sens ...more
Jim Leckband
Nov 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a lapsed physicist I still retain some notions that I learned along the way. One of them is that nature tries its hardest to smooth over any huge discontinuities - i.e if there is something totally out of whack with its surroundings, then the surroundings will find one way or another to bring it back. Some call this the Second Law of Thermodynamics if you wanna get technical.

And this notion is what kept popping up in my head while I was reading this incredible book. Here we have machines of i
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
3-3.5 stars.
What to say? Mostly, I'm dumbstruck that the US and USSR didn't accidentally blow up the planet using nuclear weapons during the Cold War. The author describes:

-Several accidents and sometimes deaths of air crews or maintenance personnel when handling nuclear weapons during testing or transport, over a 40-ish year period;
-The culture of the Strategic Air Group (SAC) that didn't appreciate the lack of safety in the weapons' designs and actively fought against implementing changes to d
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Really? Oh my God. Holy shit! Those were a few of the many exclamations that came from me as I read this book. And my poor husband had to endure listening to me read passages from this book as he was trying to fall asleep. I grew up during the cold war and had nuclear nightmares from the '60's through the mid-80's. At some point I convinced myself that the world was safer and that I didn't need to worry about nuclear war anymore. This book has convinced me otherwise. It has also convinced m ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
A socket falls on the skin of a Titan II missile which carries in its warhead a 9 Megaton H-bomb (the largest bomb in the U.S. working arsenal). The punctured missile in Damascus Arkansas starts leaking fuel unknown to the operators. This study of one of hundreds of Normal Accidents during the cold war involving nuclear weapons is a tale about the men and women who risked their lives and sometimes died working with these weapons. The combinations of human error, glitches , miscalculations and t ...more
jeff wong
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: война
I thought I knew a lot about nuclear weapons and the how the Cold War worked, strategies, delivery systems, and crises. But this book really shows how disorganized it all was, from the interagency infighting to the inherent conflict between weapons that are safe from accidental or malicious use and weapons that will go off (if needed). We take it for granted that nuclear weapons are designed not to go off if dropped or burned (when planes crash while carrying bombs), but they had to be designed ...more
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Books for men and women 2 16 Sep 22, 2014 05:23PM  
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  • Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
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Eric Schlosser is an award-winning American journalist and author known for investigative journalism. A number of critics have compared his work to that of Upton Sinclair.

Schlosser was born in Manhattan, New York; he spent his childhood there and in Los Angeles, California. His father, Herbert Schlosser, a former Wall Street lawyer who turned to broadcasting later in his career, eventually became
More about Eric Schlosser...
“Right now thousands of missiles are hidden away, literally out of sight, topped with warheads and ready to go, awaiting the right electrical signal. They are a collective death wish, barely suppressed. Every one of them is an accident waiting to happen, a potential act of mass murder. They are out there, waiting, soulless and mechanical, sustained by our denial - and they work.” 2 likes
“Green had been amazed by their discovery: you could break into a Titan II complex with just a credit card. Once the officers showed him how to do it, Green requested permission to stage a black hat operation at 4-7—an unannounced demonstration of how someone could sneak into the launch control center undetected. SAC had a long history of black hatting to test the security at its facilities. Black hat teams would plant phony explosives on bombers, place metal spikes on runways, infiltrate a command post and then hand a letter to the base commander that said, “You’re dead.” 1 likes
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