Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality after the Cold War

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9780801872020: Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality after the Cold War

"Here in Paul Shambroom's remarkable photographs are the machines we have built at great expense to destroy millions of human lives... and the men and women whose professional duty it is to maintain them until we learn the deep lesson that the discovery of how to release nuclear energy revealed a natural limit to the scale of human conflict." -- from the Introduction by Richard Rhodes

Although the Cold War ended more than ten years ago, the nuclear dimensions of that conflict remain ever present. The United States alone maintains a nuclear force of over 10,000 warheads; the world's other nuclear powers may possess as many as 20,000 more. Further, the atomic aspirations of such states as Iraq and North Korea continue to spark international crises, while in the wake of September 11, the possibility that terrorists might obtain and use weapons of mass destruction has become frighteningly plausible. For most people, however, nuclear weapons -- whether viewed as a dangerous threat or an effective deterrent -- exist only in the abstract.

In Face to Face with the Bomb, photographer Paul Shambroom documents the components of America's nuclear arsenal, and through his series of striking images which depict the devices and their day-to-day maintenance, he the makes clear the magnitude of the nuclear reality we have created. Taken between 1992 and 2001 at military bases in the United States and the South Pacific, these photographs offer an unprecedented inside look at the missiles, warheads, bombers, submarines, and command centers that make up the far-flung nuclear infrastructure of the United States. Shambroom's full-color prints depict both historic, Cold War--era weaponry shortly before it was mothballed and new warhead designs and missile defense prototypes that may be deployed well into the twenty-first century.

Face to the Face with the Bomb also features an introductory essay by Pulitzer Prize--winning historian Richard Rhodes, who places Shambroom's photographs within the context of the arms race with the Soviet Union, and a prologue by Shambroom, in which he discusses his experiences visiting the country's top-secret nuclear installations. Visually arresting and chillingly matter-of-fact, this volume provides a lasting document of one of the most uncertain, dangerous periods in human history.

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About the Author:

Paul Shambroom is an artist whose photographs have been exhibited in and collected by such major institutions as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Walker Art Center. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Time, and Newsweek, among other publications. He has received grants from the Creative Capital Foundation, the Bush Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation. He lives in Minneapolis. Richard Rhodes won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his 1986 book The Making of the Atomic Bomb. His other books include Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb and Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust.

Review:

"Shambroom's images embody a personal vision informed by an extraordinary eye. He combines dogged research with a subtle dread of what he is beholding, an openness to the improbable and a cool ability to snatch art from the jaws of restricted access... The value of Face to Face with the Bomb lies in the wealth of its data, the power and order of its images, and the timing of its release... Shambroom's book arrives as our country inaugurates a new kind of endless war." -- Robert Del Tredici, Los Angeles Times Book Review



"What do what weapons of mass destruction look like? Until Paul Shambroom published the remarkable photographs gathered in his new book Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality after the Cold War', those of us not personally connected with their manufacture, storage, and maintenance could only speculate on the basis of such antique models as 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy,' the bombs that eradicated Hiroshima in 1945... Everything more recent was contained somewhere in the depths of vast and remote military bases, protected not only by main force but by taboo... The most jarring thing in these photographs are the periodic reminders that what your are actually looking at bears some relation to violence, to the long history of combat using blunt or edged weapons." -- Luc Sante, Boston Globe



"Paul Shambroom's Face to Face with the Bomb richly deserves the much abused adjective 'unique.' With tenacity and chutzpah, Shambroom got okays from the Defense Department to visit nuclear-weapons sites and to photograph what he saw. No one else has done that; and in today's hyper-tense climate, it is unlikely to happen again. Shambroom neither praises nor condemns America's nuclear deterrent. His purpose was to demystify, to reveal the unseen. Openness, he reasoned, is the American way. The result is a one-of-a-kind artifact of the Cold War." -- Mike MooreSenior, Editor, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists



"Paul Shambroom's Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality after the Cold War explores this unreal conjunction of everyday and the epic." -- Albert Mobilio, Bookforum



"Face to Face with the Bomb is a compulsively fascinating account, through words and pictures, of the state of America's nuclear force today." -- Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times-Post Intelligencer



"Grappling with the reality of all the nuclear bombs out there is just what photographer Paul Shambroom wants us to do... Some of his images evoke awe, showing that he has a good sense of the magnitude of the enterprise he is trying to document. Others are just plain funny, demonstrating that he also has a good sense of humor." -- American Scientist



"Mr. Shambroom's approach suggests an anthropologist's method and rigor." -- Philip Gefter, New York Times

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