The documentary will air on PBS's American Experience on January 10th.
A myth-shattering exposé of America’s nuclear weapons
Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved—and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.
Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policy makers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.
Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.
Bret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike’s last days in power.
“Magnificently rendered. … Destined to take its place as not only one of the masterworks on Eisenhower, but as one of the classics of presidential history. … Impeccably researched, the book is nothing short of extraordinary. What a triumph!”—JAY WINIK, New York Times bestselling author of April 1865 and 1944
In Three Days in January, Bret Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower’s now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy’s inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America’s greatest leaders—during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.
Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, “on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.”
On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration.
Baier also reveals how Eisenhower’s two terms changed America forever for the better, and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable.
Bridge of Spies is the true story of three extraordinary characters whose fate helped to define the conflicts and lethal undercurrents of the most dangerous years of the Cold War: William Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, a British born KGB agent arrested by the FBI in New York City and jailed as a Soviet superspy for trying to steal America’s most precious nuclear secrets; Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the closed cities of central Russia; and Frederic Pryor, a young American graduate student in Berlin mistakenly identified as a spy, arrested and held without charge by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police. The three men were rescued against daunting odds, and then all but forgotten. Yet they laid bare the pathological mistrust that fueled the arms race for the next 30 years.
Weaving the three strands of this story together for the first time, Giles Whittell masterfully portrays the intense political tensions and nuclear brinkmanship that brought the United States and Soviet Union so close to a hot war in the early 1960s. He reveals the dramatic lives of men drawn into the nadir of the Cold War by duty and curiosity, and the tragicomedy of errors that eventually induced Nikita Khrushchev to send missiles to Fidel Castro.
Drawing on new interviews conducted in the United States, Europe and Russia with key players in the exchange and the events leading to it, among them Frederic Pryor himself and the man who shot down Gary Powers, Bridge of Spies captures a time when the fate of the world really did depend on coded messages on microdots and brave young men in pressure suits. The exchange that frigid day at two of the most sensitive points along the Iron Curtain represented the first step back from where the superpowers had stood since the building of the Berlin Wall the previous summer--on the brink of World War III.
Area 51 meets Dr. Strangelove.
Except it really happened.
Operation Redwing, the biggest and baddest of America's atmospheric nuclear weapons test regimes, mixed saber rattling with mad science, while overlooking the cataclysmic human, geopolitical and ecological effects. But mostly, it just messed with guys' heads.
Major Maxwell, who put Safety First, Second and Third. Except when he didn't.
Berko, the wise-cracking Brooklyn Dodgers fan forced to cope with the H-bomb and his mother's cookies.
Tony, who thought military spit and polish plus uncompromising willpower made him an exception.
Carl Duncan, who clung to his girlfriend's photos and a dangerous secret.
Major Vanish, who did just that.
In THE ATOMIC TIMES, Michael Harris welcomes readers into the U.S. Army's nuclear family where the F-words were Fallout and Fireball. In a distinctive narrative voice, Harris describes his H-bomb year with unforgettable imagery and insight into the ways isolation and isotopes change men for better—and for worse.
"A gripping memoir leavened by humor, loyalty and pride of accomplishment. A tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier." —Henry Kissinger
From the author:
Three-eyed fish swimming in the lagoon. Men whose toenails glow in the dark. Operation Redwing where the F words were Fallout and Fireball. In 1956, I was an army draftee sent to the Marshall Islands to watch 17 H-bomb tests. An "observer," the Army called it. In plain English: a human guinea pig.
I knew at the time that the experience could make a fascinating book, and I wrote a novel based on it while I was still there. The problem was that Eniwetok was a security post. There were signs everywhere impressing on us that the work going on (I mopped floors, typed, filed requisitions and wrote movie reviews for the island newspaper “All the news that fits we print”) was Top Secret. “What you do here, what you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here leave it here.”
I was afraid they would confiscate the manuscript if they found it but a buddy who left Eniwetok before I did concealed the pages in his luggage. When he got back to the States, he mailed those pages to my father so I had what turned out to be a very rough draft.
What was wrong with the book? Let me count the ways. I didn’t know how to write action, plot and character. I did know how to leave out everything interesting that was happening around me. Back in the States after my discharge, I thought about writing Version #2 but for ten years, I had nightmares about the H-bomb almost every night. I survived the radiation (unlike some of my friends), but the memories were also a formidable foe. I tried to forget and more or less succeeded.
My perspective gradually changed over the years and I began to remember what I had tried to forget:
We were told we had to wear high density goggles during the tests to avoid losing our sight but the shipment of goggles never arrived—the requisition was cancelled to make room for new furniture for the colonel's house.
We were told we had to stand with our backs to the blast—again to prevent blindness. But the first H-bomb ever dropped from a plane missed its target, and the detonation took place in front of us and our unprotected eyes.
Servicemen were sent to Ground Zero wearing only shorts and sneakers and worked side by side with scientists dressed in RadSafe suits. The exposed military men developed severe radiation burns and many died.
The big breakthrough came when enough years had passed and I had overcome the anger and the self-pity resulting from the knowledge that I and the men who served with me had been used as guinea pigs in a recklessly dangerous and potentially deadly experiment. At last I had the perspective to understand my nuclear year in its many dimensions and capture the tragedy and the black humor that came along with 17 H-bomb explosions. In addition, certain significant external realities had changed.
Top Secret documents about Operation Redwing had been declassified. I learned new details about the test known as Tewa: the fallout lasted for three days and the radiation levels exceeded 3.9 Roentgens, the MPE (Maximum Permissible Exposure). Three ships were rushed to Eniwetok to evacuate personnel but were ordered back after the military raised the MPE to 7. That, they reasoned, ensured everyone's safety.
I made contact with other atomic veterans who told me about their own experiences and in some cases sent me copies of letters written to their families during the tests. As we talked, we also laughed: about officers who claimed Eniwetok was a one year paid vacation; about the officer who guarded the political purity of the daily island newspaper by deleting "pinko propaganda," including a speech by President Eisenhower.
By now, Ruth knew the material almost as well as I did and provided crucial perspective and detailed editing expertise.
At last, I was able to pull all the strands together. After 50 years, I was able write the book I had wanted to in the beginning.
Having struggled to write a memoir for so long and having been asked for advice by others contemplating writing a memoir, I can pass along a bit of what I learned along the way.
Make sure you have enough distance from the experience to have perspective on what happened. Exposure to radiation and the resulting reactions—anger, terror, incredulity—produce powerful emotions that take time to process.
Figure out how to use (or keep away) from your own intense feelings. In the case of the H-Bomb tests, anger and self-pity were emotions to stay away from. So was the hope of somehow getting “revenge.”
Sometimes the unexpected works. For me, finding humor in a tragic situation— the abject military incompetence in planning and executing the H-Bomb tests—freed my memory and allowed me to write about horrific experiences.
Figure out (most likely by trial and error) how much or how little of yourself you want to reveal.
Keywords: memoir, veterans, H-bomb, US Army, army, soldier, military memoir, nuclear bombs, radiation, danger, fission, fusion, fallout, danger, suspense, atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, island, South Pacific, Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, detonation, explosions
In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal.
Featured on The Tavis Smiley Show, Bill Moyers Journal, Democracy Now, and C-Span’s Washington Journal, The New Jim Crow has become an overnight phenomenon, sparking a much-needed conversation—including a recent mention by Cornel West on Real Time with Bill Maher&mdas;about ways in which our system of mass incarceration has come to resemble systems of racial control from a different era.
Look out for a new book from Garry Wills, What the Qur'an Meant, coming fall 2017.
In Bomb Power, Garry Wills reveals how the atomic bomb transformed our nation down to its deepest constitutional roots-by dramatically increasing the power of the modern presidency and redefining the government as a national security state-in ways still felt today. A masterful reckoning from one of America's preeminent historians, Bomb Power draws a direct line from the Manhattan Project to the usurpations of George W. Bush.
The invention of the atomic bomb was a triumph of official secrecy and military discipline-the project was covertly funded at the behest of the president and, despite its massive scale, never discovered by Congress or the press. This concealment was perhaps to be expected in wartime, but Wills persuasively argues that the Manhattan Project then became a model for the covert operations and overt authority that have defined American government in the nuclear era. The wartime emergency put in place during World War II extended into the Cold War and finally the war on terror, leaving us in a state of continuous war alert for sixty-eight years and counting.
The bomb forever changed the institution of the presidency since only the president controls "the button" and, by extension, the fate of the world. Wills underscores how radical a break this was from the division of powers established by our founding fathers and how it in turn has enfeebled Congress and the courts. The bomb also placed new emphasis on the president's military role, creating a cult around the commander in chief. The tendency of modern presidents to flaunt military airs, Wills points out, is entirely a postbomb phenomenon. Finally, the Manhattan Project inspired the vast secretive apparatus of the national security state, including intelligence agencies such as the CIA and NSA, which remain largely unaccountable to Congress and the American people.
Wills recounts how, following World War II, presidential power increased decade by decade until reaching its stunning apogee with the Bush administration. Both provocative and illuminating, Bomb Power casts the history of the postwar period in a new light and sounds an alarm about the continued threat to our Constitution.
Now, in The Plutonium Files, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Eileen Welsome reveals for the first time the breadth of the extraordinary fifty-year cover-up surrounding the plutonium injections, as well as the deceitful nature of thousands of other experiments conducted on American citizens in the postwar years.
Welsome's remarkable investigation spans the 1930s to the 1990s and draws upon hundreds of newly declassified documents and other primary sources to disclose this shadowy chapter in American history. She gives a voice to such innocents as Helen Hutchison, a young woman who entered a prenatal clinic in Nashville for a routine checkup and was instead given a radioactive "cocktail" to drink; Gordon Shattuck, one of several boys at a state school for the developmentally disabled in Massachusetts who was fed radioactive oatmeal for breakfast; and Maude Jacobs, a Cincinnati woman suffering from cancer and subjected to an experimental radiation treatment designed to help military planners learn how to win a nuclear war.
Welsome also tells the stories of the scientists themselves, many of whom learned the ways of secrecy on the Manhattan Project. Among them are Stafford Warren, a grand figure whose bravado masked a cunning intelligence; Joseph Hamilton, who felt he was immune to the dangers of radiation only to suffer later from a fatal leukemia; and physician Louis Hempelmann, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the plan to inject humans with potentially carcinogenic doses of plutonium. Hidden discussions of fifty years past are reconstructed here, wherein trusted government officials debated the ethical and legal implications of the experiments, demolishing forever the argument that these studies took place in a less enlightened era.
Powered by her groundbreaking reportage and singular narrative gifts, Eileen Welsome has created a work of profound humanity as well as major historical significance.
From the Hardcover edition.
Here, for the first time, are gripping accounts of Khrushchev's plan to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo; the handling of Soviet nuclear warheads on Cuba; and the extraordinary story of a U-2 spy plane that got lost over Russia at the peak of the crisis.
Written like a thriller, One Minute to Midnight is an exhaustively researched account of what Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called “the most dangerous moment in human history,” and the definitive book on the Cuban missile crisis.
By midsummer 1945, Japan had long since lost the war in the Pacific. The people were not told the truth, and neither was the emperor. Japanese generals, admirals, and statesmen knew, but only a handful of leaders were willing to accept defeat. Most were bent on fighting the Allies until the last Japanese soldier died and the last city burned to the ground.
Exhaustively researched and vividly told, The Fall of Japan masterfully chronicles the dramatic events that brought an end to the Pacific War and forced a once-mighty military nation to surrender unconditionally.
From the ferocious fighting on Okinawa to the all-but-impossible mission to drop the 2nd atom bomb, and from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s White House to the Tokyo bunker where tearful Japanese leaders first told the emperor the truth, William Craig captures the pivotal events of the war with spellbinding authority. The Fall of Japan brings to life both celebrated and lesser-known historical figures, including Admiral Takijiro Onishi, the brash commander who drew up the Yamamoto plan for the attack on Pearl Harbor and inspired the death cult of kamikaze pilots., This astonishing account ranks alongside Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day and John Toland’s The Rising Sun as a masterpiece of World War II history.
“A devastating read that highlights man’s capacity to wreak destruction, but in which one also catches a glimpse of all that is best about people.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A poignant and complex picture of the second atomic bomb’s enduring physical and psychological tolls. Eyewitness accounts are visceral and haunting. . . . But the book’s biggest achievement is its treatment of the aftershocks in the decades since 1945.” —The New Yorker
The enduring impact of a nuclear bomb, told through the stories of those who survived: necessary reading as the threat of nuclear war emerges again.
On August 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a small port city on Japan’s southernmost island. An estimated 74,000 people died within the first five months, and another 75,000 were injured.
Nagasaki takes readers from the morning of the bombing to the city today, telling the first-hand experiences of five survivors, all of whom were teenagers at the time of the devastation. Susan Southard has spent years interviewing hibakusha (“bomb-affected people”) and researching the physical, emotional, and social challenges of post-atomic life. She weaves together dramatic eyewitness accounts with searing analysis of the policies of censorship and denial that colored much of what was reported about the bombing both in the United States and Japan.
A gripping narrative of human resilience, Nagasaki will help shape public discussion and debate over one of the most controversial wartime acts in history.
WINNER of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize
FINALIST for the Ridenhour Book Prize • Chautauqua Prize • William Saroyan International Prize for Writing • PEN Center USA Literary Award
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Economist • The Washington Post • American Library Association • Kirkus Reviews
The first full account of how the Cold War arms race finally came to a close, this riveting narrative history sheds new light on the people who struggled to end this era of massive overkill, and examines the legacy of the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that remain a threat today.
Drawing on memoirs, interviews in both Russia and the US, and classified documents from deep inside the Kremlin, David E. Hoffman examines the inner motives and secret decisions of each side and details the deadly stockpiles that remained unsecured as the Soviet Union collapsed. This is the fascinating story of how Reagan, Gorbachev, and a previously unheralded collection of scientists, soldiers, diplomats, and spies changed the course of history.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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 of an enemy warhead. This is the chilling true story of the incredibly risky steps our military took to protect us from that scenario, including:
• Over two thousand loaded bombers that crossed American skies. They sometimes crashed and at least nine times resulted in nuclear weapons being accidentally dropped
• A system that would use timers and rockets to launch missiles even after everyone was dead
• Disastrous atmospheric nuclear testing including the horrific runaway bomb—that fooled scientists and put thousands of men in uniform in the center of a cloud of hot fallout
• A plan to use dry lake beds to rebuild and launch a fighting force in the aftermath of nuclear war
Based on formerly classified documents, military records, press accounts, interviews and over 10 years of research, 15 Minutes is one of the most important works on the atom bomb ever written.
Vincent Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, and this book is his enthralling account of how he built his case from what a defense attorney dismissed as only "two fingerprints and Vince Bugliosi." The meticulous detective work with which the story begins, the prosecutor's view of a complex murder trial, the reconstruction of the philosophy Manson inculcated in his fervent followers... these elements make for a true crime classic. ?Helter Skelter ?is not merely a spellbinding murder case and courtroom drama but also, in the words of ?The New Republic?, a "social document of rare importance."Some images in this ebook are not displayed due to permissions issues.
From the earliest days of his dictatorship, Saddam Hussein had vowed to destroy Israel. So when France sold Iraq a top-of-the-line nuclear reactor in 1975, the Israelis were justifiably concerned—especially when they discovered that Iraqi scientists had already formulated a secret program to extract weapons-grade plutonium from the reactor, a first critical step in creating an atomic bomb. The reactor formed the heart of a huge nuclear plant situated twelve miles from Baghdad, 1,100 kilometers from Tel Aviv. By 1981, the reactor was on the verge of becoming “hot,” and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin knew he would have to confront its deadly potential. He turned to Israeli Air Force commander General David Ivry to secretly plan a daring surgical strike on the reactor—a never-before-contemplated mission that would prove to be one of the most remarkable military operations of all time.
Written with the full and exclusive cooperation of the Israeli Air Force high command, General Ivry (ret.), and all of the eight mission pilots (including Ilan Ramon, who become Israel’s first astronaut and perished tragically in the shuttle Columbia disaster), Raid on the Sun tells the extraordinary story of how Israel plotted the unthinkable: defying its U.S. and European allies to eliminate Iraq’s nuclear threat. In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, journalist Rodger Claire re-creates a gripping tale of personal sacrifice and survival, of young pilots who trained in the United States on the then-new, radically sophisticated F-16 fighter bombers, then faced a nearly insurmountable challenge: how to fly the 1,000-plus-kilometer mission to Baghdad and back on one tank of fuel. He recounts Israeli intelligence’s incredible “black ops” to sabotage construction on the French reactor and eliminate Iraqi nuclear scientists, and he gives the reader a pilot’s-eye view of the action on June 7, 1981, when the planes roared off a runway on the Sinai Peninsula for the first successful destruction of a nuclear reactor in history.
The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. Blaine Harden's latest book, King of Spies, will be available from Viking in Fall 2017.
North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk.
In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother.
The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist.
Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.