Sierra Club Books: San Francisco, 1986.
I came across this book many years ago when I was shelving books at my public library. I was curious about the name and noticed eye-catching graphics and other artwork. When I took it home to read it, I was astounded and determined that my children would read it when they became old enough to appreciate the importance of the contents.
The book is a little daunting. Much of the first third is dedicated to quotes and passages by known figures throughout history speaking out about the need to stop warring. Through time many reasons are given. The middle section deals with all aspects of nuclear energy, especially but not limited to nuclear weapons and the increased danger to the world regarding them. The last portion discusses organizations that have been active in limiting the dangers, the huge numbers of people who are concerned. So, it goes from a very hopeful beginning (though also intellectual) to the fear and utterly mind-blowing facts to hope again that we can act from a standpoint of awareness to end the fear and devastation, that there is more knowledge of the fact that we have no choice but to end it.
What is astounding to me is how much of the information I had no clue about. Very little is broached in history classes, and most of it is not common knowledge. Being from the generation after the Vietnam War, I thought that our country had learned its lesson (obviously not). In the 1980s, there was much activism against both nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation. As a result, the public knew the seriousness of the hazards (although we were still missing important information), and plants were closed. Maybe I just assumed that our citizens were more aware than they actually are. Imagine my surprise when I heard President Bush talking about making "usable" nuclear weapons. Imagine my outrage when my Senator wrote in a response to my concern that it was okay if we spent millions of dollars to research building the weapons since they hadn't agreed to actually use them yet. Dumb and dumber.
This is why I feel the book is so important. It states in no uncertain terms the things that all humans need to know about nuclear weapons. It describes Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a way that cannot fail to reach people. It also states that the public reason for those bombings was nonexistent. Our government ordered the dropping of those bombs knowing Japan was ready to surrender. To me this means no government can be trusted with the power of these weapons. None.
I am reading the book for the second time, and it is as powerful today as it was years ago. I guarantee that this subject will not be addressed fully in curriculums. I know that it is disturbing, but if we are to safeguard our future, we cannot leave it in the hands of politicians and the military complex. There is too much money wrapped up in the whole deal for politicians to care about what is best for the world or even our homeland. Only pressure from people of the world (us) will influence nuclear policy.
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