Even in the Cold War’s darkest moments, American policy makers recognized that slowing down the nuclear arms race was essential to preserving both international security and the quality of national life. Ignoring that lesson risks creating a more dangerous future.
Since that moment, the world has lived in the nuclear shadow. Within four years of the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with their 200,000 fatalities, the U.S.S.R. developed an atomic bomb and the Cold War produced a massive arms race. Soon both superpowers created even more devastating hydrogen bombs. By 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union possessed enough nuclear warheads to explode the equivalent of 15 tons of radioactive TNT for every person alive on the face of the earth.
weapons and the dangers of a global nuclear arms race
Barton Bernstein (ed), The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues (1976).
Richard K. Betts, Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance (1987).
Kai Bird and Lawrence Lifschultz (eds), Hiroshima’s Shadow (1998)
McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choice About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (1988).
Gerard DeGroot, The Bomb: A History of Hell on Earth (2004).
Robert Divine, Blowing on the Wind: The Nuclear Test Ban Debate, 1954-60 (1978).
Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (1st ed, 1981, 2nd ed 1988).
Francis J. Gavin, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Ithaca, 2012).
Michael J. Hogan (ed), Hiroshima in History and Memory (Cambridge, 1996).
David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956 (London, 1994).
John W. Lewis and Xue Litai, China Builds the Bomb (Stanford, 1988).
Shane J. Maddock (ed), The Nuclear Age (Boston, 2001).
Ernest R. May, John L. Gaddis, Philip H. Gordon and Jonathan Rosenberg (eds), Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb: Nuclear Diplomacy since 1945 (1999).
Eric Schlosser, Command and Control (London, 2013).
Martin Sherwin, A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race (original ed 1975, rev ed, 1987).
Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (1991).
Free cold war papers, essays, and research papers.
By 1944 "the bomb" began to take on a life of its own. Attentionincreasingly focused on the potential impact of the "ultimate weapon"on the postwar world. Although a small group of scientists proposed initiativesthat could be taken during the war to avoid a nuclear arms race, Rooseveltbecame increasingly attracted to the advantages he and Churchill anticipatedwould result from an American-British atomic monopoly.