Nuclear Weapons

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Joseph Siracusa, Oxford University Press, £6.99

Saturated with terminology, this short introduction is a sobering account of the world and its complex relationship with nuclear weapons.

The factual guide is not an easy read, although it manages to neatly summarise Hiroshima's disappearance in a mere nine sentences. Siracusa starkly reminds the reader of the potential devastating impact of nuclear war. His description of the conseqences of detonating a relatively small nuclear weapon in the heart of New York makes the 9/11 attacks look like child's play, and he notes that in 1953 - after the test of the US's hydrogen bomb, "Ivy Mike" - the Doomsday clock was moved closer to midnight - scary stuff.

The book traces the developments of nuclear weapons - the development through post Second World War scenarios, up to the present day - the "age of terrorism", outlining the awesome responsibility which comes hand in hand with possessing nuclear weapons. It also explores public reaction to the procurement and cultivation of weapons.

The book concludes with an examination of the controversial "does the spread of nuclear weapons make the world safer or more dangerous?" debate. We're reminded of the very real threat of nuclear weaponry, specifically that the US remains prepared to initiate the use of such weapons by the decision of one person against a nuclear or non-nuclear enemy. Duck and cover.