A Short History of Nuclear Folly by Rudolph Herzog

By Rudolph Herzog

In the spirit of Dr. Strangelove and The Atomic Café, a blackly sardonic people’s historical past of atomic error and near-misses revealing the hushed-up and forgotten episodes during which the good powers gambled with catastrophe

Rudolph Herzog, the acclaimed writer of Dead Funny, provides a devastating account of history’s such a lot irresponsible makes use of of nuclear know-how. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear guns misplaced in the course of the chilly warfare) to “Operation Plowshare” (a thought to take advantage of nuclear bombs for big engineering initiatives, similar to a the development of a moment Panama Canal utilizing three hundred H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear tasks that almost resulted in disaster.

In an unheard of people’s historical past, Herzog digs deep into files, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of infrequent photographs. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a educate conductor’s domestic, the implanting of plutonium into sufferers’ hearts, and the discovery of untamed tactical nukes, together with guns designed to kill enemy astronauts.

Told in a riveting narrative voice, Herzog—the son of filmmaker Werner Herzog—also attracts on early life thoughts of the ultimate period of the chilly conflict in Germany, the rustic as soon as noticeable because the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations, and discusses proof that Nazi scientists knew how you can make atomic weaponry . . . and selected now not to.

From the Hardcover edition.

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The new names were an attempt to confuse Western intelligence services. There was a variety of reasons why Soviet authorities decided to use a fresh-water reservoir as a nuclear test site. The upper northern reaches of Russia were largely uninhabited, and thus the tests were “safe,” in the rather blinkered view of the Soviet military. The desire to extract a bit of revenge on Finland likely also played a role. Russian commanders remembered all too well the humiliating resistance that Russia’s much smaller neighbor had put up against the Red Army in the Winter War of 1939–40.

In addition, Hennie, who like her husband was multilingual, translated sensitive Urenco documents from Dutch to English. The rest of the story is widely known. Q. Khan was a Pakistani spy. When he returned to his homeland, he provided Pakistani officials with blueprints of uranium centrifuges and lists of companies that supplied Urenco with parts. A number of European companies, including FDO, had no qualms about earning huge profits assisting Pakistan’s atomic program. FDO supplied nuclear know-how and centrifuge components, even though the employees of the company surely must have known what their former colleague Khan intended to do with them.

In all likelihood, a combination of factors, rather than a single reason, explain why Hitler never got the bomb. One popular explanation was that many of Germany’s best scientific minds were Jews who had been expelled from the country and worked for the Allies during the war. Neither did the Nazi leadership do itself any favors by sending a number of researchers to the front, leaving the nuclear project understaffed. Furthermore, Heisenberg, who quickly became the head of the initiative, may or may not have intentionally sabotaged it.

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