Edward Kaplan seeks to explain “the rise and fall of air-atomic power in the early Cold War” (p. 6). He accomplishes this and more, providing a book that should be widely read by students of nuclear strategy. The broad elements of the story are familiar. Yet the devil is in the details; terms such as “massive retaliation” and “assured destruction” are used imprecisely by many scholars.
Kaplan offers precision by mustering an impressive array of declassified sources to deftly trace the evolving role of American nuclear strategy as interservice politics, civilian leaders, and the changing strategic environment interacted to advance new ideas and operational plans. In doing so, he advances our understanding of U.S. strategic policy.
Kaplan shows how the newly independent U.S. Air Force succeeded in appropriating nuclear weapons into existing concepts after World War II. This led to the advent of air-atomic strategy, which sought to provide the United States with the most efficient and moral path to victory. Initially, this centered on using bombers to destroy Soviet industrial capability. Later, as Soviet nuclear forces grew, the focus turned to an “offensive-defense” (p. 107) that sought to destroy Soviet nuclear capabilities and force Soviets acquiescence. The air-atomic mission assured not only the
To continue reading, see options above.
Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.
Voting and the Electorate
Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilsonview additional issues
Articles | Book reviews
PRESIDENTIAL SELECTION AND DEMOCRACY
The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.
With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.