The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg

The Doomsday Machine

From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the awful dangers of America’s hidden, fifty-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day.When former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top-secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a chilling cache of top secret documents related to America’s nuclear program in the 1960s. Here for the first time he reveals the contents...

Details The Doomsday Machine

TitleThe Doomsday Machine
Release DateDec 5th, 2017
PublisherBloomsbury Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Politics, War, Autobiography, Memoir

Reviews The Doomsday Machine

  • Bill Rasche
    Remember Daniel Ellsberg from the Watergate era? His book will freak you right on out when you discover just how close we came to a nuclear holocaust more than 50 years ago. Spellbinding!
  • AC
    Extremely interesting, often illuminating, disturbing book, marred only by a certain naïveté expressed by Ellsberg’s concluding optimism, such as it is.
  • Mal Warwick
    In the closing scene of the classic 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Major T. J. "King" Kong straddles a nuclear bomb as it soars down onto the Soviet Union while the World War II hit song We'll Meet Again blares in the background. Major Kong is the commander of a B-52 bomber sent to attack the USSR by the deranged general Jack D. Ripper—and the protocol will not permit the President of the United...
  • Bob H
    This is a frightening story of the US nuclear war policy from the 1950s on, by someone who was a witness (at RAND) and a participant. Daniel Ellsberg was privy to the secret war planning at that time, which apparently is still largely in place. The film "Dr. Strangelove" turns out to be uncomfortably close to true live, he says.We find out that:- there really was a doomsday machine, of sorts: in the US, a single plan for nuclear war, triggered by...
  • Michael Frank
    Finished on the same day as the Hawaii ICBM alert. Every adult needs to read this book and put pressure on Congress to reduce our On Alert Nuclear status. .. below is a quote from Kruschev a few years after the Cuban missle crisis. “When I asked the military advisors if they could assure me that holding fast would not result in the death of five hundred million human beings, they looked at me as though I was out of my mind, or what was worse, a...
  • Erin Carrington
    This book is a rollercoaster. And by rollercoaster, I mean only the part where you're slowly click-clacking your way further and further up toward impending doom. And, while you're making your way up there the person next to you leans over and tells you that your best friend killed your cat because she's actually a homicidal lunatic. But, really, this book is phenomenal as a historical record, a dire warning to humanity, and a call to action. My ...
  • Vheissu
    This book will interest general readers as well as subject matter experts, including students of bureaucratic politics.The title derives from the classic film, Dr. Strangelove. Ellsberg demonstrates that Stanley Kubrick got some things right and some things wrong in his movie, although in both respects things in the late 1950s and early 1960s were much, much worse than the disaster depicted on screen. One of the things Kubrick got right was the p...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Part memoir of Ellsberg worked in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations in the sixties and an anti-nuclear piece from someone who knows how it plays out at a policy level and understands the stakes namely the survival of humans as species. The author lays out in great detail his work planning for nuclear war and a general outline of our capabilities, command and control systems, who authorizes the use of nuclear weapons and the times we came cl...
  • Matthew Fenlon
    Not the easiest book to read. Lots of breaks in sentences, and a lot of repetition particularly in the early chapters. In fact I nearly gave up before the halfway point because it became quite tedious the way that the relatively few points were laboured upon. The second half focuses on the early days of nuclear weapons and is a far better read. If you can push through the early meh, it gets good, and scary!
  • Dick Reynolds
    This is not a good book to read at night because you probably won’t get any sleep. Daniel Ellsberg reveals much about his career at the RAND Corporation following his 1957 discharge from the Marine Corps. Along the way he punctures the balloons of many myths regarding the safety and employment of nuclear weapons by U. S. forces. Contrary to public opinion, the authority to launch such a weapon was not solely entrusted with the President and his...
  • Charles Gonzalez
    I wasn’t expecting to give this book a 5 star rating - I started it on the basis of the title , taken from the work of Herman Kahn , and its author , the celebrated source of the Pentagon Papers. While I had an inkling of Ellsberg’s history in intelligence matters I really had no idea of the depth of his experience and knowledge as it related to nuclear planning. The man is a veritable Zelig , making an appearance, even taking a leading role ...
  • Jake
    This book is no joke. I won a copy from a Goodreads giveaway. Written by famed whistleblower and former nuclear war planner (he was in the room with top officials during the Cuban Missile Crisis)for the Rand Corporation, Daniel Ellsberg, this book will let you in on many dirty little secrets (many now declassified) of potential nuclear war. The title obviously comes from the movie Dr. Strangelove with its crazed military leaders and scientists bl...
  • Dariel
    All my life I have been unlearning the propoganda I was fed by our society.One of the great nuclear war myths of our peace-loving nation of honor was that we would never be the first to use nuclear weapons. Setting aside that we had already used nukes, our nations strategic war plab actually was always to be the first! Obviously a surprise sneak attack would work best even if it killed one third of the world!Daniel Ellsberg tells it all in the mo...
  • Sheri
    Absolutely the scariest book I've ever read. And after reading it, I feel extremely lucky just to be alive. Turns out, the Pentagon Papers were just the second rate secret documents that Daniel Ellsberg had secreted from his Dept of Defense work for Rand Corporation. The BIG trove was documents about United States nuclear weapon research, development, deployment, and planned usage. Ellsberg, an economist at Rand, specialized in decision making an...
  • Matěj Bregant
    Ellsberg's account of war planning spans several decades of US nuclear policy and it is a disheartening read. Vivid descriptions of several instances when it was basically luck that saved us from damnation make sure that this book is at times unputdownable. Also the "nuclear football" doesn't exist - it's just a briefcase, you can't launch nukes directly from it. Also there are the US president doesn't have "launch codes" for nukes - it's all for...
  • Anthony Frausto
    Very good but also very frightening. An encompassing history of how the US and Russia have planned to wage nuclear war for the past 70 years. After reading, it is amazing we haven't destroyed each other and the rest of the world. Most people would be shocked at how close we have come to launching missiles at each other. Very sobering.
  • Adrienne
    "The Doomsday Machine" was a terrifying insight into just how close the earth is to nuclear annihilation. It seems that all it would take is one error, one miscommunication, or one rogue action is all that is needed to set the Doomsday Machine into motion. I always questioned the practicality of having the "nuclear football," the briefcase that supposedly houses all the nuclear codes and the president only has access to it. I knew that submarine ...
  • Neil
    It turns out that Ellsberg has more than just the Pentagon Papers to contribute to the quest for the truth about American conduct in war. Here he uses the information he was privy to as a top level planner of war strategy to write a memoir that is truly terrifying. Ellsberg demonstrates quite clearly that nuclear war planning has mostly been focused on a full out doomsday scenario, ignoring the risks of nuclear winter, too inflexible to stay limi...
  • Brad
    I can appreciate Daniel Ellsberg's insider's look at military/government policy on the use of nuclear weapons, which has remained fundamentally unchanged for the past 70 years. While I appreciate the writing and his forthrightness, and I don't question its accuracy, I would have to say I at least question some of his conclusions, if not disagree with them. It's certainly true that a Pandora's box was opened with the U. S. development and use of n...
  • Mike Maurer
    Here is a book that is exactly what we need at the end of a crazy year. Within its pages the author will pound into your head that there is no limited nuclear war. The plans all commit to total annihilation of the planet. Then add to that just how thin that thread is that is hanging over our heads, you’ll want to find a rock to hide under (but that won’t help in the end).The author is the guy who released the Pentagon Papers. He also copied t...
  • Just A. Bean
    The planning we were threatening to carry out was best described by a skeptical Pentagon colleague: "We send in a series of increasingly larger probes. If they're all stopped, we fire a [nuclear] warning shot. If that doesn't work, we blow up the world."Which seems to have been the core of US nuclear strategy from about 1946 to the present day. It's not like I didn't know about MAD/SAD, but seeing it laid out clearly and logically is something el...
  • Tom Schulte
    The first act of this book was so disappointing to me that I felt certain I would be giving this book 2 stars here. First, there is all this build-up about the absconded material in addition to the Pentagon Papers only to find it washed away in a hurricane and we'll never read it. Then, all this about the loose handling of nukes while so detailed was so much rooted in Ellsberg's first-hand '60s experience that it reads as very dated and possibly ...
  • Letya
    Ellsberg öntömjénező stílusa az elején igencsak megakasztotta az olvasást, de lassan az elém tárt tények és információk érdekesebbnek tűntek, minthogy foglalkozzak az öndicsőítéssel. Később már szinte észre sem vettem Ellsberg dicsekvéseit (jó, azért párszor igen ;) )Azt hittem, hogy sok mindent tudok az atomkorszakról, de tévednem kellett. Ami jó, mert így újabb információkkal lettem gazdagabb, Választ kaptam, ...
  • Tim Conder
    This book is a fascinating insight into the manner in which the American nuclear strategy was created and the extent to which misinformation, practical exigencies and the battles between the different arms of the military played in its formation.The idea of mutually assured destruction and extreme deterrence are usually taken for granted in discussions of nuclear strategy, but this book reveals that this need not be the case. Rather, this seeming...
  • Kursad Albayraktaroglu
    In this book, Ellsberg provides a very thorough history of US nuclear war planning from the viewpoint of someone who actually had a role in writing the early versions of such plans. He clearly approached this project as being a very important part of his legacy (already firmly established by the Pentagon Papers); and his knowledge and experience really shine in this book. The many anecdotes and quotes in the book clearly demonstrate once again th...
  • David Jacobson
    This book takes you on a fascinating tour of what would happen if the USA actually decided to go to nuclear war—or "general war", in the euphemistic jargon. The second half gives a history of the development of the nuclear leviathan and thoughts on how it could be dismantled. It draws an important distinction between nuclear weapons needed for deterrence (perhaps a few dozen, mostly based on submarines) and the larger number that the USA and Ru...
  • Kaia
    This is a very timely book, and it would have been timely if he had released it about 50 years ago as he had originally planned. The book describes his personal experience as a RAND contractor with the US Air Force trying to 'minimize' the civilian deaths (to less hundreds of millions than expected) of a projected US-initiated nuclear war. The book tells his shock at how many people actually had (and surely still have) the ability to initiate a n...
  • Michael Webb
    Stunning, terrible, and disquieting. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in 3 days. An in-depth look at the history of planning for nuclear war, the logic behind doomsday, and the ongoing danger that it, and the necessary failsafe systems that exist still present to humanity as a whole.Ellsberg was a very senior member of the US government and had extensive access to classified documents during the early periods of the US nuclear build-u...
  • Tusk
    This has to be one of the most important pieces of non fiction ever written. I sat down and read it cover-to-cover in one sitting and urge you to find the courage to delve into a difficult and much misunderstood topic re the planet’s most dangerous peril. Ellsberg’s historical recounting of our nation’s (and others) blood-thirsty and suicidal quest for nuclear war is sobering and he should know as he crafted US policy for several presidents...