THE TRUTH ABOUT THE NEUTRON BOMB: The Inventor of the Bomb Speaks Out by Sam Cohen

THE TRUTH ABOUT THE NEUTRON BOMB: The Inventor of the Bomb Speaks Out

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KIRKUS REVIEW

If this jokey tract is to be taken at its word, Cohen was the Rand Corporation physicist (out of UCLA anal Los Alamos) who in 1958 did the calculations demonstrating the feasibility of a neutron bomb: ""a battlefield weapon that could be used like the legendary Death Ray."" A tactical, ""antipersonnel"" weapon, that is, causing little heat or blast damage (hence little physical destruction), and having considerably less long-term radiation effect that thermonuclear weapons. Cohen relates his long, ultimately losing efforts to peddle the neutron bomb--frustrated on the one hand by adherents of the Big Bang, on the other by the anti-nuke forces, and overall by ""politics"": ""Ike didn't like the N-bomb because he was going to bomb the hell out of the Soviet Union if they started a ground war against a major ally of ours . . . . Kennedy didn't like the N-bomb because he was scared to death it would lead to a trading of thermonuclear strikes. . . ."" Cut, then, to Reagan's August 1981 announcement that the US would produce neutron warheads, but not stockpile them in Europe--so as not to aggravate European objections to missile deployment. There follows: 1) an argument against US involvement in NATO (if we stay, they'll never defend themselves); 2) a defense of death-by-neutron bomb (better than being ""burned by napalm, or crushed by blast concussion,"" etc.); 3) a brief for neutron weapons as against either all-out ground war or ""blasting a city to smithereens."" Lastly, Cohen espouses worldwide US military disengagement--on the assumption of a Soviet nuclear first-strike, the destruction of the US, and the survival ""under Soviet communism"" of the Europeans. Therefore, we should protect ourselves with strategic nuclear weapons and civil defense measures, and not futilely deploy neutron weapons to Europe (which, he adds as a kicker, aren't pure neutron weapons anyhow). A sporty anecdotal curio, Herman Kahn with a Damon Runyon accent--but altogether based as an argument on Cohen's anti-European animus and his guess as to Soviet intentions.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1982
Publisher: Morrow