Source Books for Teachers on Teaching the Nuclear Age
March 1, 2009
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Spencer Weart, Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (Harvard University Press) QC773.W43 1988. Fascinating, learned, and entertaining summary of the utopian hopes and hellish fears (viz. Godzilla) invoked by the dreams and realities of splitting the atom.
Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Simon & Schuster) QC773R46 1986; Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb(Simon & Schuster) UG1282A8R46 1995; Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race (Knopf) U264R48 2007. Definitive histories of nuclear weapons research for the general audience.
Ronald A. Knox, God and the Atom (Sheed & Ward) BT1101K73 1945. First theological meditation on the advent of atomic war.
Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (Knopf) D753S48 1975. New Leftish, but nonetheless scholarly critique of Roosevelt’s and Truman’s decisions on whether to share atomic secrets.
Gregg Herken, Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller(Henry Holt) Q16O62H47 2002; Counsels of War (Knopf) UA23H45 1985; The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War 1945–1950 (Knopf) D843H438 1980. Works of a leading historian of U.S. weapons development and military strategy in the early Cold War.
Costandina Titus, Bombs in the Backyard: Atomic Testing and American Politics (University of Nevada Press) U264T58 2001. Breezy yet scholarly history of the Las Vegas hype, AEC secrecy, and eventual political “fallout” surrounding the Nevada nuclear tests.
Robert A. Divine, Blowing on the Wind: The Nuclear Test Ban Debate 1954–1960 (Oxford University) E835D53 1978. Diplomatic history of the global outcry against radioactive fallout from atmospheric testing during the Eisenhower years.
Benjamin P. Greene, Eisenhower, Science Advice, and the Nuclear Test Ban Debate (Stanford University) UA23G7879 2007. What were the risks of not continuing to test nuclear warheads … and could Soviet compliance be verified?
Glenn T. Seaborg, Man and Atom: Building a New World Through Nuclear Technology (E. P. Dutton) TK9145S4 1971; Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Test Ban (University of California) JX1974.7S414 1981. Famous Berkeley scientist and chancellor argues for the potential of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and offers an inside account of the 1963 Test Ban Treaty.
Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War (Knopf) E841D573 2008. Latest narrative of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Jim Castelli, The Bishops and the Bomb: Waging Peace in a Nuclear Age (Image Books) BX1795A85C37 1983. Analysis according tojus in bello of the condemnation of nuclear weapons by the Roman Catholic House of Bishops during the Reagan build-up.
Freeman Dyson, Weapons and Hope (Harper & Row) U264D97 1985. Brilliant British physicist’s literate, humanistic warning about our “fatal addiction to the technology of death.”
Scott Sagan and Kenneth Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed, with new sections on India and Pakistan, Terrorism, and Missile Defense (W. W. Norton) U264S233 2003. Could anyone consider nuclear weapons proliferation a “good thing”? Yes, my old Berkeley colleague Waltz argues that The Bomb is a force for peace and stability.
Colin S. Gray, The Second Nuclear Age (Lynne Rienner Publishers) U264G734 1999. Prominent security analyst’s prediction about the place of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War era.
Itty Abraham, The Making of the Indian Atomic Bomb: Science, Secrecy, and the Post-Colonial State (St. Martin’s) QC773A27 1998. First account of the most recent proliferation.
J. Samuel Walker, Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective (University of California) TK1345H37W35 2004. Good summary of the evolution in thinking and policy about nuclear safety in the United States.
Gregorii Medvedev, The Truth About Chernobyl (Basic Books) TK1362S65M4313 1991. Translation of the Russian exposé with a forward by Andrei Sakharov.
Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz (Lippincott) PS3563I4215C3 1959. My favorite “post-nuclear apocalypse” novel.