Command and Control - Eric Schlosser

Command and Control

By Eric Schlosser

  • Release Date: 2013-09-17
  • Genre: Military
Score: 4
From 191 Ratings


The New Yorker

“Excellent... a hair-raising, minute-by-minute account of an accident at a Titan II missile silo in Arkansas, in 1980, which [Schlosser] renders in the manner of a techno-thriller… Command and Control is how nonfiction should be written.” (Louis Menand)

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A ground-breaking account of accidents, near-misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: how do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved--and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind.

Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policymakers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with men who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.

Amazon/iTunes Reviews

  • Complex Broken Arrow at Titan Launch 374-7

    Excellent book. Very well written and researched. The jumping around the main story was a little much. I can also speak to the excellent description the author gave to the Damascus accident, along with other accidents involving nuclear weapons. When I think of this accident; my mind still goes back to the phone call I received in the middle of the night with the words “Complex Broken Arrow at Titan Launch 374-7”. I had no idea where this was but, as the Operations Officer for the USAF Contamination Disposal Team we were activated to deploy to the accident location ready to cleanup any nuclear contamination. Luckily by the next day it was determined we need not deploy, since the warhead was relatively intact. The author was correct that until that time there was not a complete list of accident/incidents. There were reports filed but a list was never complied. I was tasked to compile a list of all accidents and incidents which was completed and forwarded up the chain of command.
  • Sadly lacks continuity

    By 36RED
    Although this book is very well-written and expertly researched, it is nonetheless a very long book, and the constant jumping around of the main story of the Damascus incident was quite frustrating. The biggest detriment to this style of layout and editing is that with such an involved story, the reader just plain forgets the characters and necessary developments of that fateful night while the book spends tens of pages on completely separate issues. I thoroughly enjoyed what the author presented in terms of history, but for the sake of the reader, PLEASE RE-EDIT THIS BOOK AND PUT THE DAMASCUS TITAN II INCIDENT IN COHESIVE CHAPTERS!!!!!!
  • Command and Control

    By Minuteman Guy
    I am a retired AF Minuteman Maintainer. Many of the Titan maintainers were retrained into the MInuteman system after the Titan shutdown. they always called our misssie a “roman candle” compared to their Titan. This book is an outstanding read. The level of detail is impeccable. The level and intensity of the research is amazing. I knew of a few of the incidents/accidents mentioned but was amazed at the actual number of them. We always leaned on the “one point safe” as a level of comfort. Thanks for a great book!
  • Thoughtfully compelling.

    By Why must I nickname me?
    Simultaneously fascinating, eye-opening and terrifying. An exhaustively researched and invaluable contribution to a topic which should be far more in out nation's consciousness. Woven together artfully are re-tellings of events and corresponding technical data/jargon in a perfect balance; technical enough for the curious, but not burdened by the weight. One of the best-written NF selections I have read in years. This should be required reading for all Americans.
  • Excellent Read

    By Bolar12
    Excellent book. Author does a great job of telling the story while also sharing vital information and stories from the past. All you old SAC Warriors will love it.
  • Excellent Book

    By Old Air Force
    I can't say I agree with the author's politics, but this is an excellent work describing the evolution of nuclear weapons. I have some personal knowledge of the accident in Damascus, Arkansas and the author did an excellent job of accurately describing the event and the major players who were participating in the efforts to avert the explosion that occurred.