MAKING WEAPONS, TALKING PEACE: A Physicist's Odyssey from Hiroshima to Geneva by Herbert F. York

MAKING WEAPONS, TALKING PEACE: A Physicist's Odyssey from Hiroshima to Geneva

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A scientific and diplomatic memoir from a nuclear physicist who was former Director of Livermore Laboratories, Defense Department official under Eisenhower and Kennedy, and chief negotiator under Carter at the Geneva Comprehensive Test Ban talks. From his appointment at age 21 to work on the Manhattan Project until his present past at the Univ. of Cal., San Diego, York has been at the forefront of, first, weapons technology, and, second, disarmament discussions. This book summarizes his career, with a rare mingling of technological expertise and diplomatic prowess. York offers insights into not only the political stars of the past four decades, but also the wizards of science--Lawrence, Teller, Von Neumann, Wigner, Oppenheimer, et al. Edward Teller, for instance, ""was truly unique in his ability to spot talent, to give it just the right amount of authority and responsibility. . .,"" while Von Neumann ""always dressed formally, wearing a three-piece business suit and tie. . .even while riding muleback down into the Grand Canyon."" But it isn't only people who star here, but policies as well. In this regard, York decries the state of affairs that exists when weaponry gets so complicated that only lower-level technicians can make truly informed decisions. As he looks back over his long career on both sides of weapons technology, York finds two great realities: ""One is that the strategy of maintaining peace through the threat of nuclear annihilation cannot work forever. . .the other is that finding an effective, moral, and permanent replacement for the current strategy will take serious effort and a long time."" A passionate and engaging autobiography.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1987
Publisher: Basic Books