Saturday, March 8, 2014

Book #8 - Command and Control

commandandcontrolAbsolutely terrifying. After reading this, I'm not sure if I'm amazed we never had a nuclear accident or I'm stunned that we never had a larger war with the USSR. I imagine if we had, that the vast majority of bombs would never have exploded. My feeling is the idea that we could destroy the world 100 times over is overblown. We'd be lucky to have 1% of those bombs explode. Perhaps that's not the case, now, but I wonder.

Command and Control is about nuclear bombs in the US, and the way they were built, stored, and involved in our Cold War with the Soviet Union. The book starts out with an accident in Arkansas, while Bill Clinton was governor, and a Titan II missile started leaking fuel after an accident. That story comes through the book as we leave it for asides or history lessons, and come back to it in places. It makes me glad I never really went into the military or worked around nuclear weapons as the controls and protections were minimal, and paranoia from our leaders, high.

It's amazing that there were so many accidents. I had never realized how widely we'd deployed nuclear weapons, from the 50s on. How many kinds, and the challenges involved in building them. The fact that none have ever exploded in a fission accident, and so many have had their explosives explode in airplane crashes and other accidents, proves that it's a) incredibly hard to achieve a nuclear reaction and b) it's perhaps even harder to build a weapon that can be stored for any length of time.

An amazing book and one I had a hard time putting down.

No comments: