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Who needs nuclear weapons?

Philip Towle, 27 October 1988

Without the Bomb: The Politics of Nuclear Non-Proliferation 
by Mitchell Reiss.
Columbia, 337 pp., $35, January 1988, 0 231 06438 1
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Deep Black: The Secrets of Space Espionage 
by William Burrows.
Bantam, 401 pp., £14.95, January 1988, 0 593 01342 5
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Democracy and Deterrence: The History and Future of Nuclear Strategy 
by Philip Bobbitt.
Macmillan, 350 pp., £29.50, March 1988, 0 333 43537 0
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... looking back, will see this as the age of Mao Tse Tung and Giap rather than Bernard Brodie and Herman Kahn. It was Mao and Giap who transformed the face of Asia, while Brodie, Kahn and the other American nuclear strategists could find no way of bringing nuclear power to bear in order to change the world. Would it ...

Dealing in futures

W.R. Mead, 21 March 1985

The 2024 Report: A Concise History of the Future 1974-2024 
by Norman Macrae.
Sidgwick, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 283 99113 5
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The Resourceful Earth: A Response to ‘Global 2000’ 
edited by Julian Simon and Herman Kahn.
Blackwell, 585 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13467 0
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... For some years, 2000 has been rivalling 1984 as a golden number in the calendar of futurologists. It has now taken over. And while Europeans have been casting economic horoscopes for their continent at the dawn of the next millennium, nothing is good enough for their American cousins but a forecast for the great globe itself – hence Global 2000: Report to the President, the establishment of the Global Tomorrow Commission, and Global Future: Time to Act, with its list of a hundred recommendations ...

Under the Staircase

Robert Neild, 1 April 1983

War Plan UK: The Truth about Civil Defence in Britain 
by Duncan Campbell.
Burnett, 488 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 09 150670 0
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With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War 
by Robert Scheer.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 436 44355 4
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... to survive better than the Soviet Union. This argument was made more than twenty years ago by Herman Kahn in his book On Thermo-Nuclear War. Since then, it has surfaced from time to time, linked to wild assertions about the extent to which the Soviet Union has organised civil defence. Its latest and wildest airing came, as one might expect, from the ...

Ecoluxury

John Gray, 20 April 1995

The Fading of the Greens: The Decline of Environmental Politics in the West 
by Anna Bramwell.
Yale, 224 pp., £18.95, September 1994, 0 300 06040 8
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The Chicago Gangster Theory of Life: Nature’s Debt to Society 
by Andrew Ross.
Verso, 308 pp., £18.95, October 1994, 0 86091 429 1
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Green Delusions: An Environmentalist Critique of Radical Environmentalism 
by Martin Lewis.
Duke, 288 pp., $12.95, February 1994, 0 8223 1474 6
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... free-market libertarianism of Herbert Spencer and F.A. Hayek, and the technological optimism of Herman Kahn or Julian Simon, post-scarcity anarchism asserts that, given existing and prospective technologies, there are no insuperable natural limitations to the growth of human population, and no forms of scarcity that cannot be overcome by scientific ...

How to be Green

Mary Douglas, 13 September 1990

A Green Manifesto for the 1990s 
by Penny Kemp and Derek Wall.
Penguin, 212 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 14 013272 4
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Social Philosophy and Ecological Scarcity 
by Keekok Lee.
Routledge, 425 pp., £40, September 1989, 0 415 03220 2
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Mother Country 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 261 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15453 0
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Blueprint for a Green Economy 
by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward Barbier.
Earthscan, 192 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 1 85383 066 6
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TheFate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon 
by Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 366 pp., £16.95, November 1989, 0 86091 261 2
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Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Barrie and Jenkins, 250 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 7126 3489 4
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... are sprinkled in among moderates, who find themselves side by side with the extreme optimism of Herman Kahn. Garrett Hardin and Barry Commoner point to the problems of co-operation and solidarity, Alvin Toffler calls desperately for responsibility, while others, pointing the finger of blame, use vitriol to stir up hostility. As well as being a ...

Walking in high places

Michael Neve, 21 October 1982

The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of 18th-Century Science 
edited by G.S. Rousseau and R.S. Porter.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £25, November 1980, 9780521225991
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Romanticism and the Forms of Ruin 
by Thomas McFarland.
Princeton, 432 pp., £24.60, February 1981, 0 691 06437 7
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Poetry realised in Nature: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Early 19th-Century Science 
by Trevor Levere.
Cambridge, 271 pp., £22.50, October 1981, 0 521 23920 6
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Coleridge 
by Richard Holmes.
Oxford, 102 pp., £1.25, March 1982, 0 19 287591 4
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Young Charles Lamb 1775-1802 
by Winifred Courtney.
Macmillan, 411 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 333 31534 0
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... realised in Nature so un-Coleridgean, as if the ‘damaged archangel’ had suddenly turned into Herman Kahn? Is there some way of conceding the incoherence of at least some of Coleridge’s thought while continuing to insist on his greatness? Because Coleridge isn’t in this book, in the way that he isin Richard Holmes’s recent, sensitive profile in ...

Why the hawks started worrying and learned to hate the Bomb

John Lewis Gaddis: Nuclear weapons, 1 April 1999

The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons 
by Jonathan Schell.
Granta, 240 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 1 86207 230 2
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... Diplomacy is obviously one of them. During the year of the Cuban missile crisis the strategist Herman Kahn published a book on nuclear war called Thinking about the Unthinkable. The only way to avoid such a conflict, he insisted, was to determine, ahead of time, how one might fight it. It was an understandably unpalatable line to take, and ...

Catastrophism

Steven Shapin: The Pseudoscience Wars, 8 November 2012

The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe 
by Michael Gordin.
Chicago, 291 pp., £18.50, October 2012, 978 0 226 30442 7
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... preventing catastrophe or even that it was conspiring to bring it about. (In 1962, the war-gamer Herman Kahn suggested that we should begin to ‘think the unthinkable’ and work out how to fight and win a nuclear war, and in 1964 Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove made Kahn’s vision box-office.) The counterculture ...

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