Of all the threats faced by the United States in the 20th century, few are as notorious in the public imagination as the threat of nuclear weapons. While the specter of Soviet aggression faded from the geopolitical landscape a potentially even more dangerous threat took its place: nuclear proliferation and the rise of global terrorist networks.
“Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear States & Terrorism” is coauthored by members of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ faculty and staff: Peter Beckman, Paul Crumlish, Michael Dobkowski, and Steven Lee. Their combined expertise provides a unique take on a difficult topic, offering an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the challenges of a nuclear world.
Because the multitude of issues surrounding nuclear weapons can often cloud an already difficult topic, the book includes coverage of such diverse but related topics as:
• Nuclear terrorism.
• Nuclear proliferation.
• Coercive denuclearization.
• Nuclear relations during the Cold War.
• Building a nuclear bomb.
“The basic idea,” said Lee, “was to create a textbook, itself interdisciplinary, to be used in a variety of different courses: religious studies, political science, history and others. In that way it’s special, maybe unique.”
Now in its fourth edition, the book, originally titled “The Nuclear Predicament,” has been almost completely rewritten. Many recent changes in geopolitical policy and military doctrine required that most of the chapters be overhauled. Now, the first chapter connects and contextualizes nuclear power from the Cold War era to the post Sept. 11 world.
“We think that Hiroshima affected the landscape of history,” said Dobkowski. “In politics, science, history and ethics we began to see a paradigm shift. 9/11 looks like a similar kind of event. When historians look back, they’ll see the reverberations of 9/11 in every part of our lives.”
Many of the issues have changed since when the book was first published in the 1980s. “There is much more emphasis on proliferation now,” Dobkowski said. “We really wanted to reflect on the dangers of nuclear terrorism.”
The goal of the authors is to equip students and other interested readers with the tools they need to make sense of the endlessly changing debates about nuclear weapons. Although detailed, the authors wanted to create a text usable by anyone with an interest in the topic. “We’d like to think it could be something read by the general reader,” said Lee.
“Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear States & Terrorism” became available in June from Sloane Publishing and copies are available at the College Store.