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Accident and escalation: Eric Schlosser on nuclear weapons

By Jonathan Derbyshire  

The American writer Eric Schlosser’s new book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, The Damascus Accident, and the Illusions of Safety, is a beautifully written and utterly terrifying account of the frequency with which those administering the United States’ nuclear weapons programme flirted with disaster during the Cold War. This is a book, Schlosser says, about “the effort to control nuclear weapons” written from the bottom-up: his interest is less in nuclear diplomacy and the terrible game-theoretic refinements of “mutually assured destruction” than in the management of the operating systems…

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