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Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 20 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (20 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199229546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199229543
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 1.3 x 10.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 523,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Joseph M. Siracusa is Professor in International Studies and Director of Global Studies, at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He is internationally known for his writings on nuclear history, diplomacy and presidential politics, and is also a frequent political affairs commentator in the Australian media, including ABC Radio National. He has worked at Merrill Lynch, in Boston; in the Department of History, University of Queensland; and served as a senior visiting fellow in the Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance, Griffith University. Among his numerous books are The American Diplomatic Revolution: A Documentary History of the Cold War; A History of United States Foreign Policy; Depression to Cold War (with David G. Coleman); Presidential Profiles: The Kennedy Years; and Real-World Nuclear Deterrence (with David G. Coleman).

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
In 1951, the newly established US Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) commissioned production of a film to instruct children how to react in the event of a nuclear attack. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Dynan on 13 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Joseph M. Siracusa appears to be of American extraction but lives and works in Australia as a Professor of International Studies at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. The evidence of his origins can be found in the opening passage of his book when he describes his own recollection of the feeble practices instituted by the US Government in the 1950s to counter the threat of nuclear blasts against schoolchildren. The truth is, as he says, "America's schoolchildren would never have known what hit them".

The book is part of Oxford University Press's marvellous series of Very Short Introductions and while I had initial reservations about the historical elements of the book, Siracusa eventually won me over. The science of nuclear weapons is not well understood by the vast majority of people and Siracusa does attempt to explain it in layperson's terms. Having read Richard Rhodes' seminal work, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, I was reasonably well aware of the mechanics of the system but also very cognizant of the historical aspects, which are glossed over a bit too carelessly in this one, even for such a short book.

Once the basics are out of the way, the post WWII global scene is dealt with and Siracusa moves quite well between the various policies adopted by countries in a changing world where the balance of power shifted quite rapidly from US monopoly to a policy of containment as the Soviet Union developed their own weapons. Various developments are well discussed, as the development of the hydrogen bomb and missile technology evolved into Mutual Assured Destruction: MAD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Nuclear weapons are the most powerful and destructive weapons ever created. The combined power of all nuclear weapons currently in existence has the potential to destroy the World many times over. That fact has permanently changed the perception of warfare and created a whole new set of military and diplomatic concerns. This very short introduction explores these issues in detail, or at least with as much of a detail as the format allows. The book starts with a very brief explanation of how the nuclear energy works, and the realization in the late 1930s that it could be used for weapons. It follows with a condensed story of the Manhattan Project and the first nuclear explosions. The end of World War II, as the book argues, has only been a beginning of the new power relations based on the new reality that came with the gradual proliferation of the nuclear weapons around the world. The bulk of the book deals with the diplomatic and strategic policies that have marked the balance of powers during the Cold War. Even though the number of countries that acquired nuclear weapons never went beyond a single digit, there is a constant threat that many more regimes around the world would be all too willing to join the nuclear club. This had become an especially intractable problem upon the end of the Cold War. Instead of gradual disarmament, all of the nuclear powers have decided to cling to their arsenals. Even though deterrence might have been a major factor in the establishment and maintenance of peace throughout the twentieth century, the raise of non-state actors and their increasing predilection for the use of all sorts of weapons of mass destruction poses new and much more challenging threats for the world peace. All of these considerations are explored in this book, presented at a very accessible and relevant level.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. C. Liston on 12 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Scholarly but easy to read. A blend of history, technology and statistics. There is plenty of little seen or discussed material in here. Makes it so clear that the insanity is not yet over.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book as a basis for a lecture I was giving. I found it absorbing and interesting, and just the right amount of detail for my purpose.
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