Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness, takes on nuclear weapons in his new book Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety.
What will cause a nuclear incident? A nation or terrorist group launching an attack?
Or human error, a faulty computer chip or a dropped socket?
Schlosser’s book looks at the near-misses in the nuclear age, including the accident on September 18th, 1980, when a Titan II missile in a silo outside Damascus, Arkansas, was getting routine maintenance done when a socket was dropped, piercing the missile’s skin causing a major propellant leak that could have resulted in the explosion of the nuclear weapon…and the destruction of much of Arkansas.
There have been missiles accidentally dropped from airplanes and faulty computer chips that set off alarms about incoming missiles…
And misinformation…a weather satellite is seen on radar as a nuclear weapons attack…the moon rising is seen as a nuclear weapons attack…
Some of the incidents were sorted out just minutes before world leaders pushed the button to launch a counter-attack.
Command and Control is a scary and important book.