ICBM by G. Harry Stine


The Making of the Weapon That Changed the World
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 An eyewitness history of the development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, by former ICBM engineer and veteran author Stine (The Corporate Survivors, 1986, etc.). Subject to the pitfalls common to all ``big science'' projects (erratic funding, program alterations and other time-induced complications), Stine explains, the development of a missile that could deliver nuclear warheads anywhere on earth experienced its ups and downs since its inception among a group of German engineers in the early 1930's. Also as usual, actual demonstrations, when successful, proved most effective in raising development funds; Germany's WW II V-2 rocket inspired not only America's postwar importation of Wernher von Braun and company, but an array of programs that would eventually lead to the Polaris and Minuteman systems in the US and their counterparts in the USSR. Designed by idealistic scientists and engineers who often viewed their work as the only way to get into space, the ICBM program enormously outgrew its relatively puny offshoot, the Apollo program, drawing government funds into an ever-increasing arms competition between the Soviet Union and the US. Stine, who was fired from the ICBM program in 1957 after he discussed the military implications of the Soviets' Sputnik I satellite with a journalist, does not hesitate to assert here that the development of a defense against the ICBM, i.e., the Strategic Defense Initiative, is not only inevitable but imperative as ICBM technology trickles down to smaller, potentially less stable nations. A highly opinionated account in which debatable opinions are often intermingled with fact, but an intriguing look nonetheless at how weapon systems are developed.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-56768-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991