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The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Daniel Ellsberg

Ellsberg titled his first memoir, an account of his legendary leak of the Pentagon Papers, Secrets (2002), but he has been harboring many more disclosures of far greater impact for the last 47 years. In this gripping and unnerving book of “confessions,” Ellsberg reveals that along with the top-secret materials about the Vietnam War he copied as a high-clearance strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation and the Defense Department, he also amassed a large cache of classified papers documenting the appalling truth about the perilously inadequate control of nuclear weapons. Ellsberg would have brought these records forward decades ago, but after his trial, which led not to his conviction but to Nixon’s resignation, they were lost in a hurricane. Now, thanks to government declassification and online archives, he is finally able to recount with searing specificity such hidden horrors as the delegation of the authority to initiate nuclear attacks, the erroneous assumptions behind the arms race, his role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the facts about other near-disasters. Entwining affecting personal revelations with jolting governmental disclosures, declaring that Stanley Kubrick’s infamous nuclear-weapons satire, Dr. Strangelove (1964), “was, essentially, a documentary,” and citing our tense standoff with North Korea, Ellsberg concludes his dramatic elucidation of how the nuclear arsenal endangers all of life on Earth with steps for dismantling this Doomsday Machine. A must-read of the highest order, Ellsberg’s profoundly awakening chronicle is essential to our future.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Ellsberg’s concussive nuclear confessions will generate heated media coverage, which will be further escalated by Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming Pentagon Papers movie, The Post, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. – Booklist Reviews.

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