The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Front Cover
Bloomsbury Publishing, Dec 7, 2017 - Political Science - 432 pages
Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction

From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, the first insider exposť of the awful dangers of America's hidden, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that is chillingly still extant

At the same time former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top-secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a chilling cache of top-secret documents related to America's nuclear program in the 1960s. Here for the first time he reveals the contents of those now-declassified documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising account of the most dangerous arms build-up in the history of civilisation, whose legacy - and proposed renewal under the Trump administration - threatens the very survival of humanity. It is scarcely possible to estimate the true dangers of our present nuclear policies without penetrating the secret realities of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, when Ellsberg had high level access to them. No other insider has written so candidly of that long-classified history, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Ellsberg's discussion of recent research on nuclear winter shows that even a 'small' nuclear exchange would cause billions of deaths by global nuclear famine.

Framed as a memoir - a chronicle of madness in which Ellsberg acknowledges participating - this gripping exposť reads like a thriller with cloak-and-dagger intrigue, returning him to his role as whistle-blower. It is a real-life Dr Strangelove story, but an ultimately hopeful - and powerfully important - book.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

This book is a compelling but truly terrifying account of U.S. nuclear plans and policies from the Manhattan Project to the present. Why terrifying? Because it is a thoroughly-documented history of ... Read full review

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

User Review  - Book Verdict

Before he researched the background of the Vietnam conflict, ex-marine Ellsberg (Secrets) analyzed nuclear warfare decision-making for the RAND Corporation and the Pentagon. He would go on to leak the ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2017)

In 1961, Daniel Ellsberg, a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White House, drafted Secretary Robert McNamara's plans for nuclear war. Later he leaked the Pentagon Papers. He lectures and writes on the dangers of the nuclear era and the need for whistle-blowing. A Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Ellsberg is the author of Secrets and the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America. He is also a key figure in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film about the Pentagon Papers, The Post, scheduled to be released in December 2017. He lives in Kensington, California, with his wife, Patricia.

Bibliographic information