At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb

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9780742550759: At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb
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'No previous generation of statesmen has had to conduct policy in so unknown an environment at the border line of Armageddon'-Henry Kissinger Nuclear weapons pose a unique challenge to American foreign policy and the American president in particular. The choices the president makes with regard to atomic weapons can change the course of human history and affect the lives of billions of people. In this important new work, scholar, teacher, and diplomat James Goodby analyzes how American presidents have confronted the dilemma of nuclear weapons. Drawing on his own involvement in over fifty years of nuclear policy, he explores specific case studies to illustrate the decision making process and the delicate balance between international cooperation and freedom of action, between the rules of behavior and governmental autonomy.

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About the Author:

James E. Goodby is a research affiliate with MIT's Program on Science, Technology, and Society, where he dedicates his research to issues involving nuclear weapons. Goodby has served in a variety of diplomatic and policy positions in both Europe and Washington, placing strong emphasis on international security affairs. Among Goodby's most recent books are The Gravest Danger: Nuclear Weapons, co-authored with Sidney Drell, and A Strategy for Stable Peace, co-authored with Petrus Buwalda and Dmitri Trenin. He is the recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the State Department's Superior and Distinguished Honor Award, and the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit from the German government. In 1995, Goodby received the inaugural Heinz Award in Public Policy.

Review:

At last, a well-written, objective account of the evolution of U.S. nuclear weapons policy and efforts at nuclear arms control from the beginning of the nuclear age to the dangerous situation we face today. In At the Borderline of Armageddon, James Goodby examines how each U.S. president since World War II has sought to manage the atomic bomb. . . . I strongly recommend the book to anyone interested in the evolution of U.S. nuclear policy or seeking a challenging text for a college course. Our current president might well profit from this book as he contemplates his legacy. In addition, it should be mandatory reading for any aspirant to the presidency in 2008. (Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr. Arms Control Today)

At the Borderline of Armageddon provides a crisp and thoughtful summary of the lessons taught by half a century of effort to control nuclear weapons. It is also a powerful reminder of how much we are in danger of forgetting those lessons. (Ernest May, Harvard University)

This book examines how U.S. presidents have discharged the enormous responsibilities they carry with respect to nuclear weapons. Jim Goodby draws on his own extensive experience in government to provide a clear and lively account of U.S. nuclear weapons policy from the beginning to the present. His analysis is authoritative, and his judgments wise. He explains how we got to where we are and shows what we should do to address our current nuclear problems. For those concerned about U.S. nuclear weapons policy this is an indispensable book. (David Holloway, Stanford University)

At a time when terrorism and proliferation have once again forced us to consider how to deal with nuclear weapons, At the Borderline of Armageddon recalls the fascinating and terrifying history of the nuclear age. James Goodby has written an extraordinary and engaging book that has much to teach leaders and ordinary citizens alike. (Lee Hamilton, president, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and vice chair, 9/11 Commission)

Since 1945 and the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, every American president has had to make daunting decisions about nuclear weapons. James Goodby has been intimately involved in the administrations of 8 presidents, starting with Dwight Eisenhower, in U.S. efforts to reduce nuclear danger through diplomatic negotiations and policy choices. He has written an authoritative and fascinating account of these efforts, discussing the political, strategic, and technical components. This book is an important contribution for all who wish to understand the past history and what it portends for future challenges. (Sidney Drell, Stanford University)

Goodby begins at the end of World War II and examines how each president dealt with and handled the threat of nuclear weapons. . . . Those with an interest in politics and American history would enjoy this book. (Sunday Times Record News)

For those who believe that intelligent and effective diplomacy still can and should be a major toll to preserve American security, this book is a must-read. (Foreign Service Journal)

A sweeping yet concise overview of nuclear policy for each administration from Truman through George W. Bush . . . Goodby's ability to distill the essence of complex issues, his analysis of long-term trends, and his personal recollections of negotiations make this a compelling account. Recommended. (CHOICE)

Part historical analysis, part memoir, this book is a lucid, authoritative account by a key participant of how every administration from Truman to Clinton wrestled with the terrible problem of nuclear arms control and made real progress in managing it through an international regime―until the current Bush administration set out from the very outset to dismantle it. The story is always interesting and instructive, and in the end, despite its calm, objective tone, frightening. (Paul W. Schroeder, University of Illinois)

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