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15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation
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15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  243 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Packed with startling revelations, this inside look at the secret side of the Cold War exposes just how close America came to total annihilation

During the Cold War, a flight crew had 15 minutes to get their nuke-laden plane in the air from the moment Soviet bombers were detected—15 minutes between the earliest warning of an incoming nuclear strike and the first flash o
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 22nd 2011)
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Nick Black
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: oppenheimania
yet another recent example of good research (we hope; read on) and terrible editing in the Custodians of Armageddon genre (see my Oppenheimania bookshelf). there's a tremendous quantity of recently declassified DoD memoranda/letters in here, and while Keeney's rarely really inspired in his explication, he definitely got there the firstest with the mostest. one comes away with at least 3x a Wikipedia-as-of-2011 level knowledge of the various American Air Force nuclear accidents (no coverage of fo ...more
Mar 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a book that promises more than it delivers and is somewhat misnamed. A more accurate title might have been: "Strategic Air Command's Preparation for the War It Hoped Never to Fight."

It is a pretty easy read considering the subject matter includes nuclear physics, aeronautics, engineering and military jargon. The subject matter is fascinating, focusing on the amazing development of the Strategic Air Command, which was formed out of nothing following World War II to become the most elite
Philip Hollenback
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Why am I so addicted to reading about the cold war and nuclear weapons? I blame growing up under Reagan.

This book is a real page turner and does a good job of covering the rise of SAC and 15 minute bomber alerts. For most of the second half of the 20th century the US literally had bombers standing by, ready to be off the ground in less than 15 minutes and on the way to destroy life as we know it. The real question to ask is how did we not destroy everything?

One of the stories in this book is the
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, airpower, saass, 628
An interesting read that provides a good background to the development of the US nuclear capability generally, and SAC more specifically. The book is let down though by a few simple mistakes made by the author which highlight his lack of attention to detail, and considering that the book is all about the detail, this significantly detracts from the book's appeal.

First off, the book's title is misleading. The book is not about Curt LeMay, it is about SAC. Although Curt LeMay played a vital role i
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
A very nice broad history of the strategic air command in the days leading up to and throughout the duration of the Cold War. The focus is primarily on bomber forces as that was the primary delivery system of nuclear weapons for the United States. The intercontinental ballistic missiles are only given a very cursory treatment within this history. What the author does particularly well is depict the development in both the number of nuclear weapons the were built and the ever increasing destructi ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
I thought the book was a good history of the Strategic Air Command and an accurate picture of early cold war strategy and logistics. The stories about lost bombs was chilling and the mechanics of armageddon and thinking behind it makes me wonder how we survived that era and what's more will we make it through the 21st century without a nuclear war. The author quotes Stanley Kubrick from shortly after he made the movie Dr.Strangelove saying " I don't think many planets survive their nuclear age. ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
"15 Minutes" was a frustrating read for me, because the author has clearly done thorough research, but the presentation is so scattered and inconsistent that very little in the way of a cogent narrative emerges from his writing. As an example, almost every paragraph ends with a separate line dedicated to a punchy repetition of a phrase or description from that paragraph.
Almost every paragraph.

It's the kind of thing that adds dramatic effect when the author is emphasizing the cool language used b
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having been a "Cold War Warrior" and stationed at a base with a nuclear mission in the 1980's I found this book both fascinating and informative. Due to recently declassified government documents I was shocked to discover the sheer number of nuclear weapons we had on stand-by during the height of the Cold War and how close we came to disaster when bombers carrying these weapons crashed, seemingly on a frequent basis. There were parts of our nuclear deterrence program I didn't even know existed, ...more
Matthew Dambro
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing rendition of the history of the Strategic Air Command; it is well researched and well written. The courage and endurance of flight crews and ground crews is a story that all Americans can be justly proud of.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
There is an old joke that the best way to ensure traffic safety is to equip each car with a sharp spike in the steering wheel, which would pierce the driver's chest in case of an accident; it will make him drive very carefully indeed. This was also the logic of nuclear deterrence between the two Cold War superpowers: in situations when two Great Powers of centuries past might have come to blows, the United States and the Soviet Union abstained for fear that a war would turn into an exchange of h ...more
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