This book provides the first documented description of the genesis and institutionalization of America's nuclear surveillance system. It traces the development of covert technical methods for assessing the nuclear capability of foreign powers from the introduction of these techniques in World War II to 1949, when they were successfully employed to detect the test of Russia's first atomic bomb. Ziegler and Jacobson examine the planning for the system as well as the technical and organizational obstacles that had to be overcome before it could be implemented. They describe the government decision-making processes and the ways individuals and groups with different beliefs and interests were mobilized in support of the program. They also explore the relationships between the intelligence and scientific communities that were forged in this process.
• 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.