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  • Published: 17 September 2013
  • ISBN: 9780141943176
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 656

Command and Control

The grand-scale, gripping story of the nuclear age and a history of our times, from the great chronicler of the American soul

Through the story of a gripping, minute-by-minute account of a terrifying nuclear weapon accident in the American heartland, famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser explores the inner workings of the most dangerous technology ever invented. Missile explosions, bomber crashes, short circuits, rogue officers, hydrogen bombs lost at sea - Command and Control describes the effort, since the dawn of the atomic age, to prevent nuclear weapons from being stolen, sabotaged, or detonated inadvertently.

Based on thousands of pages of recently declassified documents and scores of interviews with officers and nuclear technicians, Command and Control recounts a litany of nuclear accidents and close calls, and tells readers how to defuse an atomic bomb. Part techno-thriller, part secret history, part inquiry into the ability of so-called "normal accidents" to cause major catastrophes, Command and Control is a tour de force, and essential reading at a time when the nuclear threat seems once again to be growing. It's a cautionary tale for every nation that has weapons of mass destruction or seeks to obtain them. And it's a vivid, mind-blowing journey into a world of extraordinary secrets that until now has been hidden from view.

  • Published: 17 September 2013
  • ISBN: 9780141943176
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 656

About the author

Eric Schlosser

Eric Schlosser is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. He has received a number of journalistic honours, including a National Magazine Award in the US for an earlier version of Reefer Madness. His first book, Fast Food Nation, has been a bestseller in Britain, Japan and the United States.

Also by Eric Schlosser

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Praise for Command and Control

A work with the multi-layered density of an ambitiously conceived novel

John Lloyd, Financial Times

Command and Control is how non-fiction should be written ... By a miracle of information management, Schlosser has synthesized a huge archive of material, including government reports, scientific papers, and a substantial historical and polemical literature on nukes, and transformed it into a crisp narrative covering more than fifty years of scientific and political change. And he has interwoven that narrative with a hair-raising, minute-by-minute account of an accident at a Titan II missile silo in Arkansas, in 1980, which he renders in the manner of a techno-thriller

New Yorker

The strength of Schlosser's writing derives from his ability to carry a wealth of startling detail on a confident narrative path

Ed Pilkington, Guardian

Disquieting but riveting ... fascinating ... Schlosser's readers (and he deserves a great many) will be struck by how frequently the people he cites attribute the absence of accidental explosions and nuclear war to divine intervention or sheer luck rather than to human wisdom and skill. Whatever was responsible, we will clearly need many more of it in the years to come

Walter Russell Mead, New York Times

Reads like a thriller ... A fascinating read and a gripping one

Justin Webb

[Praise for Eric Schlosser]: He tells us things we already suspect to be true, but don't dare think about

Daily Telegraph

Eric Schlosser may be the Upton Sinclair for this age ... He has a flair for dazzling scene-setting and an arsenal of startling facts

Los Angeles Times

Schlosser's reportage is as good as it gets


My vote is for Eric Schlosser's Command and Control. Do you really want to read about the thermonuclear warheads that are still aimed at the city where you live? Do you really need to know about the appalling security issues that have dogged nuclear weapons in the 70 years since their invention? Yes, you do. Schlosser's book reads like a thriller, but it's masterfully even-handed, well researched, and well organised. Either he's a natural genius at integrating massive amounts of complex information, or he worked like a dog to write this book. You wouldn't think the prospect of nuclear apocalypse would make for a reading treat, but in Schlosser's hands it does

Jonathan Franzen, Guardian, Books of the Year