Sidebar: Ten Books on Nuclear Perils and Global Hopes

Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race by Richard Rhodes (Knopf, 2007)

The author produces his latest in a series of histories of the nuclear era.

“Far from victory in the Cold War, the superpower nuclear – arms race and the corresponding militarization of the American economy gave us ramshackle cities, broken bridges, failing schools, entrenched poverty, impeded life expectancy, and a menacing and secretive national – security state that held the entire human world hostage.”

The Bomb: A New History by Stephen Younger (Ecco,2009) 

A nuclear weapons scholar provides a fresh overview.

“It would be irresponsible if such policies [that produce too many nuclear weapons and fail to protect nuclear facilities’ security] continued after an informed and comprehensive debate. What is unconscionable is that such a debate has yet to occur nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War.”

Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons by Joseph Cirincione (Columbia University Press, 2007) 

A noted expert ruminates on challenges and solutions.

“Vast areas of the world – entire continents – are nuclear-weapon free. … Rather, the states of proliferation concern are in an arc of crisis that flows from the Middle East through South Asia up to Northeast Asia. In other words, the concern is in regions where unresolved territorial, political, and religious disputes give rise to the desire to gain some strategic advantage by acquiring nuclear weapons. Countries have given up nuclear weapons and programs in the past only when these disputes have been resolved.”

A Desperate Passion: An Autobiography by Helen Caldicott (Norton, 1996)

A physician looks back on an eventful life of anti – nuclear activism.

“The problem of impending nuclear war was to me an acute global clinical emergency. What needed to be done was to delineate the history of the nuclear arms race: to present a kind of clinical examination of the planet: the number of bombs and where they had metastasized; the pathology of a nuclear attack; the aetiology, or cause, of this crisis, which involved human psychology; and the cure – a universal commitment by the global community to abolish these weapons.”

The Future of Immortality and Other Essays for a Nuclear Age by Robert Jay Lifton (Basic Books, 1987)

A psychologist examines the nuclear threat’s numbing effects on emotional life.

“There is a significant individual step that each of us must take, the movement from the destructive and self-destructive stance of resignation and cynicism toward one of confronting the problem, feeling responsible to it, joining with others in taking a stand. That step is a significant personal watershed … If we numb ourselves to the forces that threaten the existence of our civilization and our species, how can we call ourselves students of humankind? How can we call ourselves teachers and mentors?”

Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age by Sallie McFague (Fortress Press, 1987)

A prominent theologian brings distinctive arguments to global themes.

“The model of God as friend defies despair. …We ask God the friend to support, forgive, and comfort us as we struggle together to save our beleaguered planet, our beautiful earth, our blue and green marble in a universe of silent rock and fire.”

Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons by Paul Lettow (Random House, 2005)

The author re-evalutates a pivotal president’s nuclear policies.

“Reagan’s antinuclearism is one of the best kept secrets of his political career, for it fails to conform to conventional wisdom. Reagan’s quest to abolish nuclear weapons is only now becoming widely known, sixty years after it began.”

The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger by Jonathan Schell (Metropolitan Books, 2007)

A leading thinker offers his latest ideas on the bomb in the twenty-first century.

“The deeper issue is how, in the long run, we can manage a world in which it is possible to build nuclear weapons without actually doing so. …The bomb was born in the mind. Let it return there.”

The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism by Ron Suskind (HarperCollins,2008) 

A journalist weaves a narrative about nuclear black markets, American values, and humane solutions.

“[The book is] about how people, in America and abroad, are trying to grab hold of what may be one of the most powerful forces on earth – moral energy – which flows, most often and most fully, from the varied and connected chambers of the human heart.”

Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters by Hans Blix (MIT Press, 2008)

A former chief UN weapons inspector weighs in.

“A crucial mark of a civilized society is that the citizens have given up the personal possession of arms and conferred upon public authorities a monopoly on the right to possess and use arms in accordance with law. Societies must travel a long road to reach this stage, and the road remains bumpy in many places … but there are some hopeful signs.”