A Disquieting Look at the History of Nuclear-War Gaming

A Titan II ICBM site, decommissioned in 1982, at the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita, Ariz. (Nicole Neri/Reuters)
Fred Kaplan in The Bomb unravels the history of bureaucratic infighting over nuclear weapons.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE T hough Fred Kaplan’s new book The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War is, for the most part, a history of bureaucratic paperwork, it is, nevertheless, terrifying. It chronicles American war-gaming, as it played out on desks in the White House, the Pentagon, and Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb., with real-world stakes: the potential obliteration of life on this planet. And as Kaplan, Slate’s national-security correspondent, makes clear in his fine, impressively researched book, those stakes are still with us.

The bomb in this book’s title is the nuclear bomb, a weapon that has become increasingly

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Howard Schneider — Mr. Schneider reviews books for magazines and newspapers and is the former executive editor of Dimensions: A Journal of Holocaust Studies.

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