The Doomsday Machine

The Doomsday Machine

Confessions of A Nuclear War Planner

Book - 2017
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The former defense analyst who revealed the Pentagon Papers offers an eyewitness account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s and reveals the dangers in the country's seventy-year-long nuclear policy.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2017
ISBN: 9781608196708
Call Number: 355.0217 EL598d
Characteristics: 420 pages ; 25 cm


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Oct 13, 2018

Outstanding and frightening.

Jun 01, 2018

This is one of the most disturbing books I have ever read. I could not put it down even though it is so alarming. Even after the shocks in the first 100 pages or so it doesn't get any easier to carry on reading.
The fact that around 1960 the US military had plans of how to fight a nuclear war that they never disclosed to their political masters including the US president is unbelievable. And when they did they did not at first tell the whole story. Is it any better now?
As the book goes on it is astonishing to read exactly what was later revealed about the Cuban Missile crisis and how close the world was to a full nuclear war.
In the end one is left drained and thoroughly convinced of the need to get rid of the scourge of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately there seems little appetite to confront this issue at all and discuss why nuclear weapons are needed at all. This is even more disturbing considering some of the leadership in the smaller nuclear states such as Pakistan, never mind the alarmingly ignorant stance of the US President. I am left with the feeling that the US DoD should most probably be renamed the Department of Offense, and similarly in Russia, China etc
Read this book, and spread the messages detailed by Ellsberg near the end of the book.

Feb 05, 2018

Five-star book; highest rating. On a TEN-star rating system, I'd be giving 10.

This is a non-fiction book, so my highest rating isn't for "creativity" or "artistic" achievement. Instead, it's based on the author's audacity, tenacity, honesty, comprehensiveness and exhaustive research skills. It's also based--I confess--on the book's importance. This is a CRITICAL book for us to read, anytime, but especially now as we have entered a second cold-war and the rhetoric is flying high (to be followed by missiles?) between Washington and North Korea.

You think if worst came to worst...

There'd be a limited nuke strike against NK alone? Read this book and think again. Read this book and prepare yourself for the distinct possibility of a simultaneous launch against China, too.

The U.S. would simply retaliate in response to a NK launch. Read this book and think again. Key phrase: First Strike capability. That's what the U.S. has based most of its nuclear plans on: INITIATING the distruction.

Think the President knows details about his country's nuclear war plans? Think again. None of the Presidents, from JFK onward have actually known the REAL plans.

Think that it's the President alone who has "the button" and could be dissuaded from pushing it by cooler heads in the White House? Read this book and realize that dozens other lesser lights have the ability--nay, the DUTY--to take the initiative before Pres. Trump can put down his smartphone and make a decision one way or the other.

That a "surgical" or "well-planned but comprehensive attack" results in limited risk for uninvolved nations elsewhere? It was 20 years after the first nuke plans were written that anybody know about something called "nuclear winter" and the starvation of the human race that would almost certainly follow.


Long before Ed Snowden and Wikileaks there was--and, thankfully, still is--Daniel Ellsberg. When he released the Top Secret Pentagon Papers on the rationale behind the Vietnam War, that's all we knew about. We didn't know about the thousands of ADDITIONAL Top Secret papers he had laboriously zeroxed on Pentagon's nuclear war plans. And here's the thing: Ellsberg was a significant contributor to the planning process. So, in many cases, what you read here is straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. (And eventual fate of those purloined papers is one more fascinating bit revealed near the beginning of this book.)

A sobering bit on page 128: Ellsberg recalls he told a friend "I had finished my first draft of the Top Secret guidance to planning for general nuclear war on my 30th birthday." His friend's reaction? "That's frightening." Ellsberg answered, "True. But you should have seen the plan I was replacing."

We can ALL see it now, and Ellsberg does a thorough job of explaining why it's all-too-relevant today.

Jan 28, 2018

Jan 28 2018......Just finished. Wow. This is a book that I feel everyone SHOULD read, but not one that I really want to recommend to my friends, as it is just not pretty. The truth hurts. Kudos to Daniel Ellsberg. Maybe one day, (soon....I can only hope) he will be credited with saving the planet. This book has made me realize how close we are to utter destruction. Now, I have to figure out how to live with this knowledge! Right now, I'm going to bake some cookies....

Jan 11, 2018

This book is easily the scariest Christmas gift I've ever received. The story of the nuclear arms race, told by a privileged insider, is full of inept politicians, unthinking military, and disregard for mere citizens, whether "theirs" or "ours." Ellsberg details the futility of strategic nuclear planning, as well as limning the continued danger. He still has hope for the Earth's survival, but I am not reassured. This heavily referenced volume is a great piece of historical story-telling. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Dec 05, 2017

A stunning set of clear and critically important revelations- I must read his book on the Pentagon papers now!


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