PD Smith

The Big Bang

15 February 2008 | Atomic Age, cold war, Doomsday Men, Dr Strangelove, Science & literature | Post a comment

Saul Austerlitz has written a very knowledgeable review of Doomsday Men for today's Moscow Times. Here are the opening paragraphs:

"'We are keeping the rings in this bucket, here.' A shell-shocked civil defense officer gestures to a hefty metal bucket at his feet, stuffed with what appear to be thousands of wedding rings. The rings have been gathered from the dead in a small British city; their inscriptions are the only hope authorities have of identifying those incinerated by the deployment of a nuclear weapon. 'This,' a narrator mournfully concludes, 'is nuclear war.'

The scene is imagined, only one of the wealth of emotionally overwhelming moments that make up Peter Watkins' 1965 Academy Award-winning fictional documentary The War Game, still the best film ever made on the subject. Nuclear war is not merely a matter of warheads and tactics, presidents and premiers; it is also a matter of the bucket of wedding rings.

This tension -- between warheads and wedding rings, detached analysis and a deep-rooted understanding of the human fallout from technologically accelerated combat -- forms the primary subject matter of P.D. Smith's engaging, unsettling Doomsday Men: The Real Dr. Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon. Scientifically and culturally adept, Doomsday Men tracks the pursuit of devastating weaponry in both laboratories and pulp magazines."

You can read the rest here.

Leave a Reply

Name (required)
Mail (will not be published) (required)