Power reactors represent the “peaceful atom.” You will have your opinion about the peaceable atom, as do I, and many different debates could be had on the topic. But one thing I have found: to keep on top of the history and current status of the power reactors, i.e. the nuclear energy sector, it is wise to keep on top of nuclear weapons history and current status. So although I have little abiding interest in nuclear weapons (and indeed have tremendous fear of and loathing for them), I do my best to keep on top of books (and sometimes articles) that cover the history of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. If you have a similar hankering, here are some recent books worth checking out:
- Seeking the Bomb: Strategies of Nuclear Proliferation by Narang Vipin, which just came out this year, is mainly for nonproliferation wonks but would appeal to anyone with patience.
- Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: The Rise, Demise, and Revival of Arms Control by Michael Krepon, a leader in this field. Even more than the previous book, this is very readable. I think it will end up being stock in trade in university courses. (I’ve reviewed this but more from the point of view of a general reader.)
- Brazil’s Nuclear Kaleidoscope: An Evolving Identity by Togzhan Kassenova, a new look (actually not so new but it was something I’d missed) at Brazil’s nuke attempts, misbegotten though they were.
- Redefining Science: Scientists, the National Security State, and Nuclear Weapons in Cold War America by Paul Rubinson (also not so new).
- Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave our Planet and Journey into Space by Stephen Walker, which is not about bombs per se but covers an aspect of missile history.