The Bomb (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Gerard J. DeGroot’s The Bomb: A Life is a political history of nuclear weaponry which is likely to delight readers who disapprove of the bomb and its masters, the United States government in particular. For the same reason DeGroot’s tone, bitingly witty upon occasion, may disaffect defenders of these weapons. In both cases the effect would be unfortunately diverting. Even though the Cold War and its rationale for nuclear deterrence are history, the bomb remains an appalling threat deserving of sober consideration. DeGroot recognizes this and discusses the dangers, past and present, generally with insight and balance. The passages in which he lets his indignation burst forth as sarcasm and name-calling distract from his argument.
DeGroot persuasively answers some very intriguing questions. Did the atomic bomb need to be developed? Did nuclear policy in the United States and the Soviet Union avert a major war? Did the members of the “nuclear club” really need so many nuclear weapons during the Cold War? What were the costs?
The costs are worth bearing in mind as the reader progresses through the book. There are many, but aside from political consequences the principal costs are psychological, medical, environmental, and economic. DeGroot’s well-documented discussions of these alone make the book worth reading. Take the economic toll, for example. Near the end of the last chapter he cites a Brookings Institution estimate of the...
(The entire section is 1795 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Booklist 101, no. 14 (March 15, 2005): 1253.
Discover 26, no. 5 (May, 2005): 80.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 1 (January 1, 2005): 31.
Library Journal 130, no. 1 (January, 2005): 127.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 1 (January 3, 2005): 46.
Science News 167, no. 20 (May 14, 2005): 319.
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