THE BOMB AND THE COMPUTER by Andrew Wilson

THE BOMB AND THE COMPUTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ever wonder how our experts Think About The Unthinkable? According to this British writer, one way they tune in on the deadly details is by playing games. Such as STAGE (Simulation of Total Atomic Global Exchange), a Pentagonite exercise which took three years to set up and five months to play. Or AGILE-COIN, MIT's counter-insurgency special. These and other military-political simulations are discussed here, as well as the history and present institutional structuring of war games, and the application of computer technology and systems analysis to foreign policy planning. Though the emphasis is descriptive and technical, the author does attempt to evaluate the helpfulness of gaming techniques. He concludes that there are limits: for one thing, the games' main impact on participants seems to be the reinforcing of previously held ideas. For another, they don't always work: witness Vietnam, the ""fullest gamed. . . analyzed. . . and `planned' war in history,"" and still a dead loss. Despite such reservations, Wilson remains, highly respectful of the ""wisdom of the American strategic establishment."" He does not suggest that the mania for toying with ""crisis scenarios"" may contribute to endless future Vietnams. Readers who do get disturbed by such thoughts will probably find this book a potent source of bad vibes. But mere hawkish types will call it Strangelovely.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1969
Publisher: Delacorte