Nuclear War: What’s In It For You?



I came across this book at the Planned Parenthood book sale last month and thumbed through it.    As something of a Cold War, uh, enthusiast (???) I thought this was a pretty cool relic from the era.   And the title is hilarious, I laughed as soon as I saw it.   There’s a sardonic/black humor tinge through the whole thing.

The book was put out by some disarmament foundation and does a very good job of explaining just about anything about nuclear warfare you could think of in layman’s terms.  It gives a few interesting scenarios on how nuclear war could’ve happened, a few real-life situations where it almost did and a good fictional scenario of what nuclear war would’ve looked like for a town of 10,000 that didn’t get hit in a large scale attack on the US.    Basically that looked like One Second After by William Forstchen sans the epic battle with the bikers at the end.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable read and laid out well for just picking up, opening up any page and jumping right in.   I like books like that.    It is very informative.   I also like how it does a good job of avoiding national biases and explains Europe’s general unease with being stuck between the USSR and the US.   I think this is something that most Americans gloss(ed) over and still sometimes overlook on issues of foreign policy – we’re not always 100% the cowboys in the white hats.

Although large scale nuclear war a la the Cold War is probably less likely today than it was when this book was written in 1983, is the use of a nuclear weapon more likely today?   Back then if one nation used them, it was pretty much guaranteed that someone else would respond in kind.   Today with all the terrorist groups, “rogue states” and second-tier powers that have them, it makes it a little less cut-and-dry.   It almost seems like we would be more likely to see some kind of nuclear weapon go off in a major American or European city from a terrorist attack than the Ruskies launching nukes in 1983 knowing that we’ll throw everything we have against them.   I don’t know.    I hope not.

Anyways, more than anything I just thought this book was a really cool bit of Cold War memorabilia.



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