Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
Finalist for The California Book Award in Nonfiction
The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of the Year List
Foreign Affairs Best Books of the Year
In These Times “Best Books of the Year"
Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List
LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week”
From the legendary Pentagon Papers whistle-blower, an eyewitness exposé of America's Top Secret, seventy-year nuclear policy that continues to this day.
Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
Framed as a memoir--a chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating--this gripping exposé reads like a thriller and offers feasible steps we can take to dismantle the existing "doomsday machine" and avoid nuclear catastrophe, returning Ellsberg to his role as whistle-blower. The Doomsday Machine is thus a real-life Dr. Strangelove story and an ultimately hopeful--and powerfully important--book about not just our country, but the future of the world.
About the Author
In 1961, Daniel Ellsberg, a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White House, drafted Secretary Robert McNamara's plans for nuclear war. Later he leaked the Pentagon Papers. He lectures and writes on the dangers of the nuclear era and the need for whistle-blowing. A Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Ellsberg is the author of Secrets and the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America. He is also a key figure in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film about the Pentagon Papers, The Post, scheduled to be released in December 2017. He lives in Kensington, California, with his wife, Patricia.
“The Doomsday Machine is being published at an alarmingly relevant moment, as North Korea is seeking the capability to target the United States with nuclear missiles, and an unpredictable president, Donald Trump, has countered with threats of 'fire and fury.'”
New York Magazine
“Gripping and unnerving . . . A must-read of the highest order, Ellsberg's profoundly awakening chronicle is essential to our future.”
starred review, Booklist (“High Demand Backstory”)
“Ellsberg's brilliant and unnerving account makes a convincing case for disarmament and shows that the mere existence of nuclear weapons is a serious threat to humanity.”
starred review, Publishers Weekly
“Noted gadfly Ellsberg returns with a sobering look at our nuclear capabilities . . . When the author hurriedly copied the contents of his RAND Corporation safe to reveal, in time, what would become known as the Pentagon Papers, that was just the start of it. He had other documents, even more jarring . . . Especially timely given the recent saber-rattling not from Russia but North Korea and given the apparent proliferation of nuclear abilities among other small powers.”
“A passionate call for reducing the risk of total destruction . . . Ellsberg's effort to make vivid the genuine madness of the 'doomsday machine,' and the foolishness of betting our survival on mutually assured destruction, is both commendable and important.”
Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review