It was the weapon to end all weapons: the doomsday device. A huge nuclear bomb so powerful that it could envelop the entire planet in a cloud of radioactive dust, and bring about instant extinction. This is the untold story of the Cold War's most insane plan, the men behind it and how it nearly happened. It is also the history of humanity's nightmare vision of a superweapon, showing how popular culture, from the stories of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne to films such as "Planet of the Apes", "Mad Max" and "Dr Strangelove" itself have both shaped and reflected our darkest dreams.
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Peter Smith teaches at University College London where he is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Science and Technology Studies Department. He regularly reviews for the Guardian, and has written for the Independent, the Financial Times and the Times Literary Supplement. 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 London.From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Weaving together biography, science and art, Smith has created a compelling history of physics in the 20th century, focusing on the long-lasting search for ever more destructive weapons-from the development of chemical warfare in World War I Germany through the arms race of the Cold War. Explaining "why some of the most gifted and idealistic men of the twentieth century spent so much effort trying to destroy the planet," Smith's dynamic, riveting narrative reveals details of people, places and events that are rarely covered in textbooks, bringing to life not just scientists like Robert Oppenheimer and Leo Szilard, but the horrors of chemical and atomic warfare. Time and again, "it seemed that a giant leap forward for science also meant a step backward for mankind," and contemporary film and fiction echoed this sentiment with "clear signs... of genuine resentment towards scientists for betraying the high ideals of their profession and, indeed, the best interests of humanity." Ironically, the goal of many of these scientists was peace, not war: "Many scientists were convinced that the terrible reality of atomic superweapons would force nations to resolve their disputes and work for world peace." Captivating and thoroughly referenced, this chronicle should interest a wide audience, from science and history buffs to armchair politicos.
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Book Description Penguin, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0141019158
Book Description Penguin, London United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. No Jacket. Paperback Edition. 553 pages index bibliop notes - In this gripping narrative, Peter Smith tells the untold story of the doomsday bomb. In 1950, for the first time in history, mankind realised that he had within his grasp a truly God-like power - the ability to destroy life itself. Doomsday Men reveals the personalities behind the technologies of nuclear doomsday and shows how, in the end, the doomsday machine became the ultimate symbol of humanity's deepest fears about the science of destruction. As Smith forcefully shows, the culture that grew up in the shadow of this frightening weapon has helped shape all our contemporary anxieties about science, technology, and the future. Bookseller Inventory # 334640