Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lawrence S. Wittner's "Confronting the Bomb"

Lawrence S. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York, Albany, and former President of the Peace History Society.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, and reported the following:
On p. 99 of Confronting the Bomb, the reader will discover a relatively obscure, but important, battle in the early 1960s between independent peace organizations and Communist-dominated peace organizations for control of the worldwide campaign against nuclear weapons.

Most of the rest of the book recounts the history of this worldwide campaign and its remarkable impact.

Ever since the explosion of the first atomic bombs in 1945, there had been widespread popular anxiety about nuclear weapons. This anxiety reached peaks of intensity in the late 1940s, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as vast protest campaigns emerged around the demand for banning nuclear weapons. With millions of participants, this public challenge to the nuclear ambitions of the great powers and their imitators became the largest social movement of modern times.

Based on massive research in the files of peace groups and in previously top secret government records, as well as on interviews with peace movement leaders and government officials, Confronting the Bomb provides a comprehensive account of this worldwide nuclear disarmament campaign.

It also provides conclusive evidence that the movement provided the key element in curbing the nuclear arms race and preventing nuclear war.

Along the way, readers will receive fascinating glimpses of the interaction between the leaders of the nuclear disarmament campaign (including Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Norman Cousins, Andrei Sakharov, Helen Caldicott, E.P. Thompson, and Randall Forsberg) and government leaders (among them Harry Truman, Jawaharlal Nehru, Nikita Khrushchev, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev).
The material in Confronting the Bomb was first made public in the author's scholarly, award-winning trilogy, "The Struggle Against the Bomb" (1993, 1997, 2003). But now, for the first time, it is presented in a short, popular form, making it much more accessible to the general public.

Read the preface to Confronting the Bomb, and learn more about the book at the Stanford University Press website.

Learn more about Lawrence S. Wittner's scholarship and political activity at his faculty webpage and Wikipedia page.

--Marshal Zeringue