There are some things which are beyond a simple marking measure, the absurdity of the race for nuclear destruction is arguably the biggest one, whatever the book that discloses information on humanity’s insatiable greed and need to destroy itself, is surely beyond any yard stick of simple pleasure. As long as it completely factual, as long as it truly makes you angry that there are those since World War Two that have looked to the nuclear question as the be all and end all of life’s niggling conundrums, just how to get along without killing each other over ideology.
Rudolph Herzog’s very powerful words resonate like a warning sign seen up to a hundred miles away and yet the further you find yourself immersed in his A Short History of Nuclear Folly, the more you realise that your eyes have been welded shut by your own inertia, by your own blinkered ignorance. That you, as part of a species, as part of a society, have allowed this to happen in your life is enough to burn your soul, it also is a book in which once started, even just a curious glance in between the covers, is enough to make you not want to put it down for any reason at all. Come the Hell or high water promised by all who have stockpiles of this insanity, the book is one that deserves the respect of an entire day to read, re-read and think of all the times in your life where consider how close you might have come to death at Nuclear warfare or accidents such as Three Mile Island or the horror of Chernobyl. Thanks to Rudolph Herzog, it is enough to make you feel uneasy, overwrought and painfully aware of the blind eye you turned.
The insanity of the global arms race, the nuclear club, that saw the old Soviet Union poison a healthy lake on the borders of Finland, that saw the United States of America seek to blow up a nuclear bomb to parade its safe use in demolition in Alaska, of Britain’s part of what can only be described as murder in the Australian desert as many aborigines succumbed to radiation sickness and in many cases as they too sought a way to renew their worth after the end of the war.
Rudolph Herzog’s book might not change your position on the need for nuclear weapons, especially in a world that sits on the abyss everyday but it is one that will make you undoubtedly raise an eyebrow, question the foolishness of certain trains of thought and whether in the end it is all worth it; the shadow of the nuclear waltz was one dance card not worth aspiring to.
A Short History of Nuclear Folly thankfully hasn’t got a chapter on the eventual outcome of the inherent dangers of brinkmanship but as we continue to look to the areas of the world in which flashpoints could occur and the once again distrust that is in the air between the United States and Russia, with Britain’s own pursuing folly of a replacement for Trident, that new black dawn, that evil in the shape of the mushroom cloud, is only a despotic finger away. Eye opening and truly informative, A Short History of Nuclear Folly is a book for the ages.
Ian D. Hall