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Sheehan - A Fiery Peace in a Cold War (2009) - Synopsis

Sheehan - A Fiery Peace in a Cold War (2009) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of Neil Sheehan, A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon (New York: Random House, 2009). -- Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on March 29, 2010.
Synopsis of Neil Sheehan, A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon (New York: Random House, 2009). -- Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on March 29, 2010.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on Mar 29, 2010
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) — Digging Deeper CXVIII: March 29, 2010, 7:00 p.m. 
Neil Sheehan,
 A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the UltimateWeapon
(New York: Random House, September 2009).
Bennie Schriever continued thelegacy of foresight of aviation pioneerHap Arnold (1886-1950) and skillfully ledin 1953-1962 the U.S.'s successfuldevelopment and deployment of 186ICBMs; his "greatest achievement was tohelp buy the time needed for the SovietUnion to collapse of its own internalcontradictions" (452). A subtheme thatemerges from Sheehan's wide-ranginghistory of the Cold War's ballistic missilerace is how again and again key figureswere immigrants motivated by patriotismor inherited international animosities—Bernard Schriever, John von Neumann,Edward Teller, Trevor Gardner, SimonRamo, Adolf Thiel.]
This book is about thelesser-known "space race" led by BernardSchriever to prevent the Soviet Union"from acquiring an overwhelming nuclearsuperiority that could tempt Sovietleaders into international blackmail andadventurism with calamitous results forhuman civilization" (ix).
Prologue: A Rite of Succession.
Gen.Hap Arnold appoints Col. Bernard"Bennie" Schriever to head a newScientific Liaison Branch within theResearch and Engineering Division of theArmy in January 1946 because hebelieves the Third World War "will be wonby brains" (xviii; xv-xix).
BOOK I: BECOMING AN AMERICANCh. 1: Ellis Island and a Tragedy inTexas.
Schriever born on Sept. 14,1910, in Bremen, Germany, to a German-born father who took his American-bornbride back to Germany after theymarried in 1908; Schriever comes to theU.S. in 1917, and the family moves to theGerman community of the Texas HillCountry, but his father dies in a workaccident shortly thereafter (3-5).
Ch. 2: A Benefactor and the Houseon the Twelfth Green.
ElizabethSchriever puts her two children in anorphanage for six months, finds a jobdirecting the household of a wealthymortgage banker, and then recovers herchildren (6-9).
Ch. 3: The Virtues of Golf.
Mother'semployer introduces him to golf;Schriever becomes a scratch player at Texas A&M and could have turned pro,but joins the U.S. Army Air Corps insteadin 1931 (9-13).
Ch. 4: White Silk Scarves and OpenCockpits.
Passes Flying School in 1933(13-15).
Ch. 5: Entering the Brotherhood.
Mother's patron's bank fails, Schrieversupports her and his brother (16). MeetsLt. Col. Henry "Hap" Arnold at MarchField in Riverside, CA, in 1933 (16-19).
Ch. 6: A Fiasco and Reform.
Flies airmail (19-23). Learns to manage groupswhile running a CCC camp on the AZ-NMborder (23-24).
Ch. 7: Staying the Course.
Sent toCanal Zone, meets Air Corpscommander's daughter, Dora, andmarries her in 1938 (24-26). LeavesReserves to take officer's commission atHap Arnold's behest (26-27).
Ch. 8: A Fork in the Road.
Excels inaeronautical engineering at Air CorpsEngineering School and is sent toStanford for a master's degree,completed in June 1942 (28-31).
Ch. 9: "Let's Dive-Bomb theBastards."
Combat flying in the Pacific(31-40).
Ch. 10: The Test of War.
Rapidpromotion during three years and threemonths of war in the Pacific, with onlytwo weeks in the U.S., chief of staff of theFifth Air Force Service Command (40-48).
The post-war international situation (51-54).
Ch. 12: Spies Inside the BarbedWire.
Soviet spies at Los Alamos—George Koval, Klaus Fuchs, DavidGreenglass, Theodore Hall—passedinformation to the Soviet Union (54-66).
Ch. 13: "The Balance Has BeenDestroyed."
Stalin was slow toappreciated the strategic significance of the Bomb, and the USSR was in gravelyweakened state after the war (66-69).
Ch. 14: The State That Was Stalin.
Stalin commanded an enormous effortinvolving hundreds of thousands of workers to build the bomb, overseen byBeria (69-77).
Ch. 15: A Confrontation and aMisreading.
U.S.-USSR confrontationseems "inevitable" (77). Stalingrad is theturning point in WWII (78-79). The U.S.,esp. George Kennan, misreads Stalin'sintentions (79-84). The first crisis occursover Iran; Stalin backs down (84-85).Also backs down from a Turkish Straitsconfrontation (85-87).
Ch. 16: Containing the Menace.
DeanAcheson the moving force behind the Truman Doctrine, inspired by the crisisover Greece, then the Marshall Plan (87-92). Stalin regards this as a declarationof economic warfare, and the Iron Curtaindescends (92-94).
Ch. 17: Neither Rain, Nor Snow, NorSleet, Nor Fog.
The Berlin airlift, June1948-May 1949 (94-99).
Ch. 18: Stalin Gets His Bomb.
Aug.29, 1949: successful Soviet atom bombtest (99-102). It ends the U.S. debate onbuilding the hydrogen bomb, detonatedNov. 1, 1952; Soviets do likewise on Nov.22, 1955 (102-03).
Ch. 19: The Consequences of Delusion.
Kennan, who regretted theexaggerations of his Long Telegram, is jettisoned in favor of Paul Nitze, theauthor of NSC-68, and the "delusion that[U.S. statesmen] faced an internationalCommunist conspiracy" (106) wasinstitutionalized (104-07). "In retrospect,one wonders why they clung so long totheir delusion" (107).
Ch. 20: Good Intentions Gone Awry.
Hall and his friend Saville Sax eludesdetection as Soviet spies (108-11). Butthey "may have helped to bring on theKorean war" (111; 111-13). By causingthe U.S. to quadruple its military budget,the Korean war is "a strategic disaster forStalin" (114; 113-14).
Arnoldchooses Theodore von Kárman of Caltechto lead a team to interview Germanscientists after the war, then on hisrecommendation has a new AirEngineering Development Center createdat Tullahoma, TN, where German windtunnels were installed (117-24).
Ch. 22: Getting Organized.
Schrieverhelps Jimmy Doolittle convince Gen. HoytVandenburg (brother of the influentialsenator, Arthur Vandenburg) to supportthe creation of a separate R& D unit(124-29).
Ch. 23: Bomber Leader.
Curtis LeMay:his firebombing of Japan in WWII makeshim the preeminent combat leader of theU.S. Air Force with an assignment torenovate the Strategic Air Command(SAC), which by December 1951 had144,525 officers and men, 1,186 aircraft,including 30 B-36s 550 B-29s and B-50s(130-38). All of the USSR is within itsreach and SAC became "the centerpieceof America's national strategy" (139;138-40). "The strategy entailedpreviously unimaginable civiliancasualties, but this does not seem tohave bothered anyone in authority. Theprospect certainly did not bother LeMay"(140; 140-42).
Ch. 24: Into the Lion's Den.
Schrievermakes a bad first impression on LeMay(142-43). Made arrogant by power,LeMay proposes the military abandonconventional weapons and use
nuclear weapons (144-46). "Pressurefrom LeMay was to be the major impetusin driving the yield of the Americanstockpile of nuclear warheads up to therecord 10,491 megatons peak it was toreach in 1960" (147). LeMay seems notto have understood that nuclear weaponswere more than bigger bombs (148-51).
Ch. 25: Moscow Opts for Rockets.
 The Soviet Union decided to rely onICBMs to deliver its nuclear warheads(152-55).
Ch. 26: A Nuclear Reactor in the Sky.
Between 1945 and 1961, the U.S. spendsmore than $7bn on a futile quest for aLeMay-backed nuclear-poweredsupersonic bomber; Schriever confrontsLeMay with its technical impossibility(156-59).
Ch. 27: Low-Level Tactics and theFlying Boom.
Confrontation with LeMayover midair-fueling techniques (160-66).
Ch. 28: The Last Tangle and anAmbush.
Further struggles with LeMayover the successor to the B-52 (both theSchriever-favored HB-X and the LeMay-favored B-70 Valkyrie were neverproduced; as of 2009, the B-52, firstproduced in 1955, is still flying) (166-72).In 1953 Schriever is promoted tobrigadier general and evades LeMay'seffort to have him ordered to Korea (172-73).
BOOK IV: STARTING A RACECh. 29: Seeking Scientific Validation.
 The quest for an ICBM-based nuclearforce begins with an idea of Schriever'sin March 1953 when John von Neumannand Edward Teller (both Hungarians) toldhim that by 1960 a hydrogen bombweighing less than a ton can be built(down from 82 tons for the first hydrogenbomb) (177-79). On his own initiative,Schriever visits von Neumann at theInstitute for Advanced Study in Princeton,where by chance he meets AlbertEinstein (179-81).
Ch. 30: When Hungary Was Mars.
 John von Neumann (1903-1957), amathematical genius and a Cold Warultra-hawk from a wealthy and prominentfamily ruined in the aftermath of theRussian Revolution (181-88).
Ch. 31: A Fascination withExplosions.
Von Neumann's personalityand enthusiasm for military collaboration(188-94).
Ch. 32: Finding an Ally.
Schrieverfinds an ally in his quest for an ICBMforce in Trevor Gardner (along withVincent Ford, his asst.); Gardner, aneccentric special asst. to the secretary of the air force for research anddevelopment, persuades Sec. of DefenseCharlie Wilson to review missile projects(194-200).
Ch. 33: Marshaling the Expertise.
Simon Ramo and Dean Wooldridge of Hughes Aircraft, who go on to found

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