Gambling with Armageddon Summary and Reviews

Gambling with Armageddon

Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1945-1962

by Martin J. Sherwin

Gambling with Armageddon by Martin J. Sherwin X
Gambling with Armageddon by Martin J. Sherwin
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Book Summary

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer comes the first effort to set the Cuban Missile Crisis, with its potential for nuclear holocaust, in a wider historical narrative of the Cold War--how such a crisis arose, and why at the very last possible moment it didn't happen.

In this groundbreaking look at the Cuban Missile Crisis, Martin Sherwin not only gives us a riveting sometimes hour-by-hour explanation of the crisis itself, but also explores the origins, scope, and consequences of the evolving place of nuclear weapons in the post-World War II world. Mining new sources and materials, and going far beyond the scope of earlier works on this critical face-off between the United States and the Soviet Union--triggered when Khrushchev began installing missiles in Cuba at Castro's behest--Sherwin shows how this volatile event was an integral part of the wider Cold War and was a consequence of nuclear arms. Gambling with Armageddon looks in particular at the original debate in the Truman Administration about using the Atomic Bomb; the way in which President Eisenhower relied on the threat of massive retaliation to project U.S. power in the early Cold War era; and how President Kennedy, though unprepared to deal with the Bay of Pigs debacle, came of age during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Here too is a clarifying picture of what was going on in Khrushchev's Soviet Union.

Martin Sherwin has spent his career in the study of nuclear weapons and how they have shaped our world. Gambling with Armegeddon is an outstanding capstone to his work thus far.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sherwin's detailed, opinionated scholarship makes it clear how national leaders bumbled through the crisis...Future crises are inevitable, and the author clearly demonstrates how there are no guarantees they will turn out so well. A fearfully convincing case that avoiding nuclear war 'is contingent on the world's dwindling reservoir of good luck.'" - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[C]aptivating...Intricately detailed, vividly written, and nearly Tolstoyan in scope, Sherwin's account reveals just how close the Cold War came to boiling over. History buffs will be enthralled." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This important investigation of a significant Cold War event will inform and engross modern history readers." - Library Journal (starred review)

"In this riveting book, Sherwin provides a fresh and thrilling account of the Cuban Missile Crisis and also puts it into historical perspective. With great new material, he shows the effect of nuclear arms on global affairs, starting with the decision to bomb Hiroshima. It is a fascinating work of history that is very relevant to today's politics." - Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci

"A thrilling account of the tension-filled days when the world teetered on the edge of nuclear apocalypse. Drawing on new sources, Martin Sherwin shows how the Cuban missile crisis grew out of the nuclear sabre-rattling of the Cold War, going all the way back to the early confrontations between Truman and Stalin. No one is better equipped to tell this story than Sherwin, who has devoted his life to thinking about Armageddon, as witnessed by his ground-breaking biography of Robert Oppenheimer. A splendid accomplishment and a great read!" - Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

"Gambling with Armageddon will have a powerful and lasting impact because it does things that no other study does in an area that could not be more significant. Sherwin makes clear that the Cuban missile crisis was not really an aberration but an unsurprising outcome of the history and psychology world leaders brought to the weapons. We also learn how much mere chance—good luck—saved us from world-ending catastrophe. Sherwin has written a book that matters deeply, and has made an elegantly convincing argument for the abolition of nuclear weapons." - Robert Jay Lifton, author of Losing Reality

The information about Gambling with Armageddon shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Martin J. Sherwin

Martin J. Sherwin is the author of A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and Its Legacies, which won the Stuart L. Bernath Prize, as well as the American History Book Prize, and the coauthor, with Kai Bird, of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2006. He and his wife live in Washington, D.C., and in Aspen, CO.

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