Whether it’s conducted on the ground, in the air, or simply through boasting about one’s expansive arsenal, war provides nearly limitless material for historians, political scientists, and pundits alike. They’ve certainly put their noses to the grindstones in recent months, putting out tome after weighty tome on international conflict. Five of these works-totaling more than 3,400 pages of analysis, reportage, prediction, and prescription-constitute this month’s column.
The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger
by Jonathan Schell
In The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, Jonathan Schell argues that there’s one particular kind of war we should be concerned with today: the nuclear variety. His previous book on the subject, The Fate of the Earth, warned of imminent nuclear disaster back in the 1980s, when Cold War tensions ran quite hot indeed. Though the specific fears of that decade have tapered off, new and unsettling players in the nuclear game, including North Korea and Iran, have motivated the author to make an updated statement for the new millenium. As a frequent contributor to The Nation, Schell also bears the animus toward the United States’ own foreign policy required of anyone associated with that organ. Aggression will, to Schell’s mind, only stoke more aggression, and if there’s to be less proliferation, the first thing to cut out is our tendency toward preemption.