Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying

From the bikini to the doomsday clock, with the advent of nuclear weapons everything around us seemed to change. Contrarian political scientist John Mueller takes issue with this conventional view of the Atomic Age.

Issue: Nov-Dec 2009

From the November/December issue of The National Interest.

John Mueller, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 336 pp., $27.95.

 

[amazon 019538136X full] IT IS easy to overlook the fact that the most startling characteristic of our era is that we are still here. John Mueller reminds us that with the dawn of the nuclear age, we became obsessed first with the idea of all-out nuclear war, then with the idea that nuclear weapons would inevitably spread throughout the world, and, lately, that nuclear terrorism would threaten our cities.

Whether an optimist, a pessimist, a political scientist, a policy maker or merely a person of a certain age, almost all of us and much of our sense of culture has been preoccupied by the atom.

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