Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Macmillan, Dec 10, 2007 - History - 576 pages
10 Reviews

This is the gripping, untold story of the doomsday bomb—the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. In 1950, Hungarian-born scientist Leo Szilard made a dramatic announcement on American radio: science was on the verge of creating a doomsday bomb. For the first time in history, mankind realized that he had within his grasp a truly God-like power, the ability to destroy life itself. The shockwave from this statement reverberated across the following decade and beyond.

If detonated, Szilard's doomsday device—a huge cobalt-clad H-bomb—would pollute the atmosphere with radioactivity and end all life on earth. The scientific creators of such apocalyptic weapons had transformed the laws of nature into instruments of mass destruction and for many people in the Cold War there was little to distinguish real scientists from that “fictional master of megadeath,” Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. Indeed, as PD Smith’s chilling account shows, the dream of the superweapon begins in popular culture. This is a story that cannot be told without the iconic films and fictions that portray our deadly fascination with superweapons, from H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds to Nevil Shute’s On the Beach and Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Although scientists admitted it was possible to build the cobalt bomb, no superpower would admit to having created one. However, it remained a terrifying possibility, striking fear into the hearts of people around the world. The story of the cobalt bomb is an unwritten chapter of the Cold War, but now PD Smith reveals the personalities behind this feared technology and shows how the scientists responsible for the twentieth century’s most terrible weapons grew up in a culture dreaming of superweapons and Wellsian utopias. He argues that, in the end, the doomsday machine became the ultimate symbol of humanity’s deepest fears about the science of destruction.


  

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Review: Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon

User Review  - Richard Buro - Goodreads

A unique and well researched work. My interest was on the technical side of things initially, but Smith's treatment of the Cold War culture soon took over my reason for completing this excellent ... Read full review

Review: Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon

User Review  - Sultry - Goodreads

Take a close look at the beginning of the modern Atomic Age. PD Smith makes it real clear and very easy to understand. He gives the reader a step by step, yet interesting look at the American atomic ... Read full review

Contents

A Black Day
3
The Gift of Destruction
12
The Plutonium Collector
29
Natures Secrets
52
The Prospero of Poisons
83
The Man Who Ended War
98
Einsteins Open Sesame
122
The Capital of Physics
149
Conceived in Fear
264
Devils Work
280
Destroyer of Worlds
304
The Doomsday Decade
339
The Hell Bomb
365
Khrushchevs Monsters
396
Strangeloves
419
The Tragedy of Mankind
437

The Inventor of All Things
163
Faust and the Physicists
179
Eureka
207
Wings over Europe
224
Power Beyond the Dream of a Madman
239
Notes
443
Bibliography
500
Index
531
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

P.D. Smith is an independent researcher and writer. He has taught at University College London where he is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Science and Technology Studies Department.  He regularly reviews books for the Guardian, and has written for the Independent, the Financial Times and the Times Literary Supplement among other journals. His previous books are Metaphor and Materiality: German Literature and the World-View of Science 1780-1955 and a biography of Einstein. He lives in Hampshire.

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