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The Doomsday Machine

Narrated by: Steven Cooper
Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Summary

At the same time 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 of those documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising insider's account of the most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization, whose legacy - and renewal under the Obama administration - threatens the very survival of humanity. It is scarcely possible to estimate the true dangers of our present nuclear policies without penetrating the secret realities of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, when Ellsberg had high-level access to them. No other insider has written so candidly of that long-classified history, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era. Ellsberg's analysis of recent research on nuclear winter shows that even a 'small' nuclear exchange would cause billions of deaths by global nuclear famine. Ellsberg, in the end, offers steps we can take under a new administration to avoid nuclear catastrophe.

Framed as a memoir, this thriller with cloak-and-dagger intrigue places Ellsberg back in his natural role as whistle-blower. It is a real-life Dr. Strangelove story but an ultimately hopeful - and powerfully important - audiobook.

©2017 Bloomsbury US (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting book - hideous audiobook!

The subject of this book is really very interesting. He has had an interesting and varied career deep within the American apparatus behind the planning and organisation of the nuclear arsenal. He makes a compelling argument for why the oft quoted defense of "deterrence" for holding vast nuclear arsenal is a bit of a tautology.

However, the narrator is hideous. Truly awful. Utterly and totally unlistenable to. At several points, it is completely indistinguishable from a very poor synthesized voice. In fact, it's probably worse as he doesn't seem to be aware of punctuation or what it's for.

A shame, I have had to download the book to read and return the audio book purely because the narration is so awful

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Actually gave me nightmares.

this book cyrstalised all my assumptions and understanding of the futility of a nuclear arsenal and especially a First Strike capability. the author's insight is hugely enlightening and surprising if not shocking.

1 person found this helpful

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Terrifying

A truly terrifying book that I is without question a must read for all. highly recommended

1 person found this helpful

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Eye opening book

A harrowing account of one of the greatest dangers to human existence on earth and how close at times we have come to orchestrating our own destruction . Also shows the callous disregard for human life by the powers that be and their willingness to destroy humanity. The narrator was a bit monotonous at moments but it just emphasise the machine like perception of our demise, over all a very good listen.

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There really isn't much new in this

This is not really anything new in this and not as well written as the dead hand.

The narrator is awful - sounds like Google maps gps guidance.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Terry Masters
  • 07-12-17

Fascinating Insider Story

This is an excellent book on nuclear weapons policy and planning at the highest levels of government as told from an insider's perspective. Given the author's personal involvement in the topics discussed, it is a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of a highly secretive realm. There are mind-blowing historical facts described, and probably everyone should read and contemplate the associated issues. Be forewarned, though, the price of becoming informed will probably be increased cynicism, fear and incredulity.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Christau
  • 13-12-17

Important and alarming story, machine-like performance

Very interesting book. Welll written. The performance is unfortunately amateurish. The reader seems incapable of understanding where one sentence ends and another begins, constantly struggling and stumbling through the author’s use of punctuation. The whole performance seems so uncomprehending and monotonous that for a long time I actually wondered if I was listening to a sophisticated synthetic voice.

22 people found this helpful

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  • XReviewer
  • 15-12-17

Mind Boggling

Extraordinary insider account of nuke command and control.
The reader is a bit robotic with sometimes strange pronunciation but he does grow on you and is easy to follow.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-09-19

Infinitely and Eternally shocking! Must read.

Truth is almost always challenging. Gird your loins and batten down the mental hatches for this book. It reminds us that there is nowhere to run....nowhere to hide. If you have a higher reality, hold it close. Our spirit may be from God, but our minds and base emotions were born in the tree tops long ago. Drink up me earties, we're burning daylight still.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Philomath
  • 10-12-17

Are we nuts??

The strongest powers in the world, those who possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth 100 times over, lead by the righteousness of the United States, plan to cut their nose to spite their face.

It is incredible that they are willing to destroy humanity to prove a point. Deterrence is a sorry ass excuse for eliminating human and animal life on Earth.

This is a story of an insider talking about secrets and plans, which are still going on. Who are those people that get to decide humanities end?

Does anything justify total annihilation? This is the big question of this book, with many insider facts I doubt anyone ever knew. Highly recommended for those who have the power to change things.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Randall
  • 25-08-19

Excellent overview of nuclear cold war issues

I considered Ellsberg an American hero before reading this book, which provides a vivid overview of Cold War events and sharply increased my respect for him. 'The Pentagon Papers' is no longer the main association I'll make when I hear his name and I fervently hope we have several dozen more Daniel Ellsbergs working for us on the inside.

1 person found this helpful

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  • John Sheridan
  • 20-03-18

Piggyback

Mr. Ellsberg certainly has been exposed to lofty levels within the USG. This story was far from disappointing, but held (at its core) the mind bending danger of human failings maintaining human devised “anything”, in this case atomic weapons. The repeated referenced “Dr. Strangelove” may offer a visual glimpse of which this already understood piece offers. The narrator performs a tonal pitch of mid level USG bureaucrats as if he stepped from a DOD desk to a sound booth. Spot on.

3 people found this helpful

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  • three_legs
  • 19-03-18

An eye opening book

While I have done some studies on nuclear weapons and their effects I had no idea how we actually used them. I had no idea that nuclear planners were so wreck less to the point of insanity. If you think that nuclear war is an unthinkable phenomenon that will never happen this book is for you. Nuclear war is in fact a real threat not only threatened by our government but by possible accidents.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Robert in Ben Lomond
  • 31-12-17

Powerful appeal to our hearts and minds

Ellsberg reveals his own role in the madness of preparing for nuclear war, describes how we got to this scary state where the entire human race could be extinguished, and concludes with an impassioned plea to end it now. Well worth reading to learn about the reality of the possibility of nuclear winter.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amy Keller
  • 11-02-18

Chilling

Most people assume the threat of nuclear war ended in 1992 with the fall of the soviet union. Truth is, it has never been more possible - accidentally or intentionally. Familiar with a lot of the material in this book it was chilling to have someone connect the dots from 1939 - current regarding the United States nuclear weapons and the willingness and continued plans to use them despite all scenarios ending in the planet becoming uninhabitable for life as we know it. MAD indeed... Between this and another title called Ravenrock, that highlights the various schemes concocted to keep the government going post Armageddon; it is evident that a form of madness has infected our elected officials. There will be no winners with a simple miscalculation or purposeful decision resulting in the end of the species.

4 people found this helpful