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How to Build a Nuclear Bomb: And Other Weapons of Mass Destruction Paperback – 22 Jul 2004

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Paperback, 22 Jul 2004
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (22 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862076774
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862076778
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 889,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

How to Build a Nuclear Bomb is a timely and sobering book, but it is not exactly what its title suggests; it is not a DIY handbook for wannabe terrorists. Although it does indeed outline the technical requirements necessary for building a nuclear bomb and the other main WMD (weapons of mass destruction), the details necessary for manufacturing such devices have long been available on the web and in published manuals for many years now. Frank Barnaby's stated aim is to promote informed debate about the risks and measures needed to protect vulnerable democratic societies against the use of WMDs by international terrorists. As he says currently, the debate is far from informed, mainly because of the large amount of inaccurate information and misinformation in circulation.

How to Build a Nuclear Bomb seeks to inform the debate. And, thanks to Barnaby's deep knowledge of the subject and ability to communicate what are sometimes complex technical matters clearly, this aim is achieved. Juxtaposed with the more technical details of bomb-making are equally technical details of what the results are on the victims. How to Build a Nuclear Bomb should be essential reading for anyone claiming to have an opinion on the subject or thinking that they should be informed about the topic, even politicians and journalists.

Nuclear terrorism is a very real and growing problem. As Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of the International Atomic Agency Council, warns the willingness of terrorists to commit suicide to achieve their evil aims makes the nuclear terrorism threat far more likely today than it was before September 11. Nevertheless, as Barnaby shows here, the threat posed by biological and chemical weapons is just as important as that of nuclear weapons, especially because so many of them are really easy to make. How to Build a Nuclear Bomb is not for those of a nervous disposition and does not make for comfortable bedtime reading. Maps, notes, websites and an index complete an invaluable book. --Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘A timely crib of WMD for beginners...encourages the sceptics to think again’ -- Economist

‘Authoritative and informative...a remarkably sane exposition of the problems liberal states face in countering terrorism’ -- Scotland on Sunday

‘Barnaby does a good job of presenting the essential information’ -- Sunday Times

‘Barnaby is eminently qualified to reveal the true danger posed by terrorists with nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction.' -- Guardian

‘Taps into the post-Iraq war appetite for spin free analysis...acts as a warning of the consequences of ignorance' -- Independent

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) have been one of the most prominent topics in the news since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christian Jongeneel on 21 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is not a 'how to' book. It's a quick guide to weapons of mass destruction, dealing with the technology and the people who might use them without approval of a government. The information density is high and Frank Barnaby, witness to a nuclear explosion in the Australian desert in 1953, surely knows what he is talking about.

However decently written, the bottom line is this book does not tell the eager reader of newspapers much new. The book's title is brilliant but does not adequately describe what is in it. It will mainly serve those in need of a quick overview.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By U. Nystuen on 26 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
If you have lost your mind and really want to build a nuclear bomb, you got to search else were. This book only provides you with some narrow information of the mechanical details, and a small fraction of the science and theories. It does however give you some interesting stats, and some drawings of the construction of the bombs them self. And as this book appeared shortly after 9/11 it has got a large part about terrorism and nuclear bombs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. J. W. MANN on 24 May 2009
Format: Paperback
It's an interesting book, worth reading, but not extremely well written -also I'm not sure about the point he's trying to make and by the way, he doesn't tell you how to build a nuclear bomb ; )it's all about what weapons of mass destruction do, to us, as victims, to the planet, etc, including biochemical weapons -everything frightening and destructive. So it appeals to the action movie, violence and gore part of one, but not to the artistic appreciation side.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Short but informative 23 Aug. 2004
By Dimitrios - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A reference book which does not delve into the exhausting details of the WMD technology but presents in a clear and easy to read text all the essential information. Of course the title is somehow misleading, as the book is not a manual for nuclear bomb producers. The strong point of the book is that it is not necessary for someone to have a PhD in Physics, Bilogy or Chemistry in order to understand the working principles of WMD.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An ordeal to read 28 Aug. 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thought at only 256 pages this book would be a quick read. Instead, it has about 40-50 pages of interesting information followed by either total repetition of previous information or extremely simplistic musings. (I hate not finishing a book, but this one was like reading a incoherant text book,
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A decent study of the problem of WMD 31 Mar. 2004
By BernardZ - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have read quite a lot on this subject so I almost did not buy it because I thought from a quickscan that I knew almost all this stuff and it would be too simple.
However I certainly learnt much from it. If you are looking for a good book to state the current world situation this book will do the trick in a quite readable form.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Swubird - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The possibility of home-made WMD's is front page news nowadays. But if you happen to notice your neighbor reading How to Build a Nuclear Bomb: And Other Weapons of Mass Destruction (Nation Books), by Frank Barnaby, don't panic. Building WMD's is a lot easier said than done.

Building an A-bomb requires a bunch of money, specialized scientists, technicians, uranium, a uranium enrichment facility, and a big, big room to assemble the thing. Can you build one from spare parts? Maybe. But A-bombs aren't like bikinis - you can't mix and match the precision parts. What about buying an A-bomb on the black market? Okay. But remember, most countries can't afford nuclear programs. Neither can individuals.

Chemical weapons are a little bit cheaper than A-bombs. However, you still need a specialized chemists, a production facility, and a stockpile of exotic chemicals. And even if you do concoct a little poison gas, it's a tricky business deploying the stuff without killing yourself in the process. The problem is that when gas is released into the air, it typically goes where it goes - not where you want it to go. Anybody who has ever sat around a campfire knows that. Wherever you're sitting, that's where the smoke goes,right? And if that smoke is poison gas, Hasta la vista baby!

Biological weapons are probably the cheapest of the three. But, again, you 'll need specialized equipment and a suitable laboratory. Additionally, you have to know something about microbiology. Yikes! Then you have to decide what germ you want to weaponize and who'll sell it to you. Plague? Ebola? Anthrax? Smallpox? They're all horrific killers, but they're hard to acquire. Even if you could get your grimy mitts on one of them, keeping the little bugger alive is easier said than done. Too hot - they die. Too cold - they die. Make the slightest mistake - you die. And like gas, germs don't behave they way you want them to. Most likely they'll blow right back into your face. Oops!

The bottom line is that WMD's are too expensive to buy, too difficult to make and too dangerous to handle. So don't worry about your neighbor. He's probably just reading this book to mess with your head. Speaking of weird neighbors, check out my comments on The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor. Now there's a neighbor you have to worry about.

This book is an excellent primer on WMD's and I highly recommend it.
really? really? 30 May 2014
By clayton - Published on
Format: Paperback
Com'on man.... I needed to actually know how to build one of these things. Already bought the ore from amazon. I don't want that $40 to go to waste.

Dear CIA,

I need this for civilian purposes. I promise.
Will the US trade embargo stop them from shipping this to Iran?
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