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!
  • Annie
    ————————THE BASICS————————Ellsberg was a member of the RAND Corporation, and who worked for the White House. He was the main whistleblower and leaker of the Pentagon Papers, which revealed things the US had done/was doing during the Vietnam War (not what they told America they were doing). He also had another batch of classified papers on nuclear war policy that he planned to release after the Pentagon Papers had a...
  • 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...
  • AC
    Extremely interesting, often illuminating, disturbing book, marred only by a certain naïveté expressed by Ellsberg’s concluding optimism, such as it is.
  • 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...
  • 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 life, 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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!
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Galen Weitkamp
    The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Plannerby Daniel Ellsberg.Review by Galen Weitkamp.This is a somber and clear-eyed look at our past seventy years of nuclear first-use policy, its consequences, uses, costs and threat to our future. The Norden bombsight used by the Army Air Corps in WWII failed to live up to its hype. Except under the most ideal circumstances, bombers were incapable of cleanly hitting specific military targets: h...
  • 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 ...
  • Ryan Lackey
    Wow. I went into this just thinking Ellsberg was a random functionary who had leaked the Pentagon Papers; I also discounted him as a generic antiwar/leftist/commie scum. I was wrong. Overall, this is a very good book, and presents both the issues of the US nuclear/national security establishment and Ellsberg as a person pretty fairly.Ellsberg was an intelligent RAND analyst with both interest in making nuclear war planning more sane, and access t...
  • Lance L
    The most dangerous man in the world with the scariest thing you’ve ever heard. Essentially, a demonstration that Dr. Strangelove is not satire, but potential documentary. I vividly remember the feeling of growing up in the late 70s and early 80s absolutely convinced that none of us would live to be adults because of the certainty of nuclear destruction. I (along with I suspect most other people) have put those fears in the past and stopped worr...
  • 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...
  • Anne
    Read it. I read the first part 5 months ago, but it was a library book so I was unable to get it back until now. It’s a dense academic read. Difficult in both the subject matter and the writing itself. Like reading a dry thesis. But some of the facts related are just incredible! As well as incredibly depressing. Essentially we are screwed. Nuclear winter will kill us all if the US or Russia ever strike or accidentally strike, or even mistakenly...
  • 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...
  • John Crippen
    Ellsberg argues that humankind has too many H-bombs and that that fact increases the risk of omnicide, a risk that did not exist prior to the late 1940s. The book is a fascinating, sobering look at how this happened, all that could go wrong, and a possible way forward to dismantling the Doomsday Machine(s). His message is the kind that will probably be ignored or discounted as scaremongering, at our peril.
  • 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.
  • Martin Berman-Gorvine
    A Vital Message for Americans and Humanity at LargeDaniel Ellsberg, who ought to be a hero to all Americans for his role in exposing the lies that led to the catastrophe of the Vietnam War, here presents his insider's knowledge of an infinitely greater catastrophe that has been waiting to happen for the better part of a century: global nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia. Ellsberg rightly calls the nuclear arsenals p...
  • Tim
    Scary book. Amazing to read the history of the Cold War to see how very bad things could have been,
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Charles
    Perhaps the Most Frightening Book You’ll Ever ReadDaniel Ellsberg is best known for leaking The Pentagon Papers in 1971. These revealed the decades of deception about American behind the scenes involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 and specifically how the Johnson administration lied to the American people and Congress about conduct of the war as it was secretly expanded far beyond what was being said publicly.Now, through this book, Ellsber...
  • 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...