March to Armageddon

Oxford University Press
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Ronald E. Powaski offers the first complete, accessible history of the events, forces, and factors that have brought the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust. He traces the evolution of the nuclear arms race from FDR's decision to develop an atomic bomb to Reagan's decision to continue its expansion in the 1980's.
Focusing on the forces that have propelled the arms race and the reasons behind the repeated failures to check the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Powaski discusses such topics as the Manhattan Project, the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima, the debate over whether to share atomic information, the effect of nuclear weapons on U.S. military and foreign policy, and the role of these weapons in arms control negotiations in the last five presidential administrations.
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Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Pages
314
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ISBN
9780195364545
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Nuclear Warfare
Political Science / Public Policy / Military Policy
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In 2008, the iconic doomsday clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientistswas set at five minutes to midnight—two minutes closer to Armageddon than in 1962, when John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev went eyeball to eyeball over missiles in Cuba! We still live in an echo chamber of fear, after eight years in which the Bush administration and its harshest critics reinforced each other's worst fears about the Bomb. And yet, there have been no mushroom clouds or acts of nuclear terrorism since the Soviet Union dissolved, let alone since 9/11. Our worst fears still could be realized at any time, but Michael Krepon argues that the United States has never possessed more tools and capacity to reduce nuclear dangers than it does today - from containment and deterrence to diplomacy, military strength, and arms control. The bloated nuclear arsenals of the Cold War years have been greatly reduced, nuclear weapon testing has almost ended, and all but eight countries have pledged not to acquire the Bomb. Major powers have less use for the Bomb than at any time in the past. Thus, despite wars, crises, and Murphy's Law, the dark shadows cast by nuclear weapons can continue to recede. Krepon believes that positive trends can continue, even in the face of the twin threats of nuclear terrorism and proliferation that have been exacerbated by the Bush administration's pursuit of a war of choice in Iraq based on false assumptions. Krepon advocates a "back to basics" approach to reducing nuclear dangers, reversing the Bush administration's denigration of diplomacy, deterrence, containment, and arms control. As he sees it, "The United States has stumbled before, but America has also made it through hard times and rebounded. With wisdom, persistence, and luck, another dark passage can be successfully navigated."
When the Cold War ended, the world let out a collective sigh of relief as the fear of nuclear confrontation between superpowers appeared to vanish overnight. As we approach the new millennium, however, the proliferation of nuclear weapons to ever more belligerent countries and factions raises alarming new concerns about the threat of nuclear war. In Return to Armageddon, Ronald Powaski assesses the dangers that beset us as we enter an increasingly unstable political world. With the START I and II treaties, completed by George Bush in 1991 and 1993 respectively, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, it seemed as if the nuclear clock had been successfully turned back to a safer hour. But Powaski shows that there is much less reason for optimism than we may like to think. Continued U.S.-Russian cooperation can no longer be assured. To make matters worse, Russia has not ratified the START II Treaty and the U.S. Senate has failed to approve the CTBT. Perhaps even more ominously, the effort to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by nonweapon states is threatened by nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan. The nuclear club is growing and its most recent members are increasingly hostile. Indeed, it is becoming ever more difficult to keep track of the expertise and material needed to build nuclear weapons, which almost certainly will find their way into terrorist hands. Accessible, authoritative, and provocative, Return to Armageddon provides both a comprehensive account of the arms control process and a startling reappraisal of the nuclear threat that refuses to go away.
A personal account from the only pilot who was part of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing missions: “A must read for any student of WWII” (John McCain).
 
On August 9, 1945, on the tiny island of Tinian in the South Pacific, a twenty-five-year-old American Army Air Corps major named Charles W. Sweeney climbed aboard a B-29 Superfortress in command of his first combat mission, one devised specifically to bring a long and terrible war to a necessary conclusion . . .
 
The last military officer to command an atomic mission, Maj. Gen. Charles W. Sweeney has the unique distinction of having been an integral part of both the Hiroshima and the Nagasaki bombing runs. Now updated with a new epilogue from the coauthor, Sweeney’s book is an extraordinary chronicle of the months of careful planning and training; the setbacks, secrecy, and snafus; and the nerve-shattering final seconds and the astonishing aftermath of what is arguably the most significant single event in modern history: The employment of an atomic weapon during wartime.
 
“A splendid book . . . A gripping account of one of history’s greatest events.” —Stephen E. Ambrose, New York Times–bestselling author of Band of Brothers
 
“Charles Sweeney is the best kind of warrior, motivated by real patriotism. For setting straight a difficult record, his book is invaluable. For commemorating a generation of heroes, his book is unforgettable.” —Dan Rather, former CBS Evening News anchor
 
“Chuck Sweeney vividly portrays the dawning of the nuclear age and explains why it was necessary.” —Dick Cheney
For half of the twentieth century, the Cold War gripped the world. International relations everywhere--and domestic policy in scores of nations--pivoted around this central point, the American-Soviet rivalry. Even today, much of the world's diplomacy grapples with chaos created by the Cold War's sudden disappearance. Here indeed is a subject that defies easy understanding. Now comes a definitive account, a startlingly fresh, clear eyed, comprehensive history of our century's longest struggle. In The Cold War, Ronald E. Powaski offers a new perspective on the great rivalry, even as he provides a coherent, concise narrative. He wastes no time in challenging the reader to think of the Cold War in new ways, arguing that the roots of the conflict are centuries old, going back to Czarist Russia and to the very infancy of the American nation. He shows that both Russia and America were expansionist nations with messianic complexes, and the people of both nations believed they possessed a unique mission in history. Except for a brief interval in 1917, Americans perceived the Russian government (whether Czarist or Bolshevik) as despotic; Russians saw the United States as conspiring to prevent it from reaching its place in the sun. U.S. military intervention in Russia's civil war, with the aim of overthrowing Lenin's upstart regime, entrenched Moscow's fears. Soviet American relations, difficult before World War II--when both nations were relatively weak militarily and isolated from world affairs--escalated dramatically after both nations emerged as the world's major military powers. Powaski paints a portrait of the spiraling tensions with stark clarity, as each new development added to the rivalry: the Marshall Plan, the communist coup in Czechoslovakia, the Berlin blockade, the formation of NATO, the first Soviet nuclear test. In this atmosphere, Truman found it easy to believe that the Communist victory in China and the Korean War were products of Soviet expansionism. He and his successors extended their own web of mutual defense treaties, covert actions, and military interventions across the globe--from the Caribbean to the Middle East and, finally to Southeast Asia, where containment famously foundered in the bog of Vietnam. Powaski skillfully highlights the domestic politics, diplomatic maneuvers, and even psychological factors as he untangles the knot that bound the two superpowers together in conflict. From the nuclear arms race, to the impact of U.S. recognition of China on detente, to Brezhnev's inflexible persistence in competing with America everywhere, he casts new light on familiar topics. Always judicious in his assessments, Powaski gives due credit to Reagan and especially Bush in facilitating the Soviet collapse, but also notes that internal economic failure, not outside pressure, proved decisive in the Communist failure. Perhaps most important, he offers a clear eyed assessment of the lasting distortions the struggle wrought upon American institutions, raising questions about whether anyone really won the Cold War. With clarity, fairness, and insight, he offers the definitive account of our century's longest international rivalry.
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