2013 Best in Fall History: #6 Command and Control by Eric Schlosser

Fall is a favorite season for many reasons: the football, beautiful scenery as the leaves change, and of course high profile book releases just in time for Christmas shopping. Fall 2013 is shaping up to be a good one for history lovers. We’ve picked our 2013 Best in Fall History beginning last week with #7 Lincoln in the World by Kevin Peraino.

#6 Command and Control by Eric Schlosser

During the ultra-crappy film Monster A-Go-Go a narrator makes that statement that “One word is feared above all others in the world of nuclear physics!” Monster A-Go-Go received the riffing treatment from the fantastic comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000, so when the aforementioned line came up, one of the cast members answers with “OOPS!” Unfortunately, “Oops” is, in fact, the most frightening word when it comes to nuclear weapons, as Eric Schlosser ably points out in his new book due out September 17th, Command and Control.

Schlosser, best known for his famed expose on fast food called Fast Food Nation, takes a hard look at the intense danger in simply keeping a stockpile of incredibly destructive nuclear weapons on hand. How do you keep weapons of mass destruction without actually being destroyed by them? The United States, as Schlosser points, never truly resolved this problem. The book focuses on an incident that occurred at an Arkansas missile site. Two workmen were 60 feet in the air working on a ballistic missile. One of them dropped a wrench, setting in motion a chain of events that threatened to result in the detonation of the missile, then one of the most powerful of its kind in the world. Intertwined with these happenings is a history of America’s nuclear arsenal, both the breakthroughs and the mishaps, showcasing how servicemen often risked their lives just to keep America’s weapons ready and prevent them from doing us harm.

Schlosser’s style is fast paced and often thought provoking – both Fast Food Nation and his history of pornography and weed, Reefer Madness were engrossing and quick reads – and with Command and Control he has a topic wherein failure on the part of those being chronicled would result in Armageddon! This title, published by Penguin Press, will be a must for fans of Richard Rhodes or Neil Sheehan.

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