Open this book A Short History of Nuclear Folly

A Short History of Nuclear Folly


Translated by Jefferson Chase

Rudolph Herzog, the acclaimed author of Dead Funny, presents a devastating account of history’s most irresponsible uses of nuclear technology. From the rarely-discussed nightmare of “Broken Arrows” (40 nuclear weapons lost during the Cold War) to “Operation Plowshare” (a proposal to use nuclear bombs for large engineering projects, such as a the construction of a second Panama Canal using 300 H-Bombs), Herzog focuses in on long-forgotten nuclear projects that nearly led to disaster.

In an unprecedented people’s history, Herzog digs deep into archives, interviews nuclear scientists, and collects dozens of rare photos. He explores the “accidental” drop of a Nagasaki-type bomb on a train conductor’s home, the implanting of plutonium into patients’ hearts, and the invention of wild tactical nukes, including weapons designed to kill enemy astronauts.

Told in a riveting narrative voice, Herzog—the son of filmmaker Werner Herzog—also draws on childhood memories of the final period of the Cold War in Germany, the country once seen as the nuclear battleground for NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, and discusses evidence that Nazi scientists knew how to make atomic weaponry . . . and chose not to.

RUDOLPH HERZOG is the author of Dead Funny: Humor in Hitler’s Germany. His documentary on humor in the Third Reich, Laughing With Hitler, scored top audience ratings on German Channel 1 and was also broadcast on the BBC. He is the son of the celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog.

JEFFERSON CHASE is one of the foremost translators of German history.

“For a book about such a heavy subject, A Short History of Nuclear Folly, keeps it quick and snappy and, dare I say, entertaining.” —Michael BuozisPhiladelphia Review of Books

“What Herzog has put together is something much harder to find these days: an intelligent case for plain, old common sense.” —Justin Rohrlich for NK News

“An eclectic, innovative approach to the bureaucratization of creativity during the Cold War.”  —The Los Angeles Review of Books

“Unflinching… Let’s just say that Herzog’s use of the word ’folly’ is an understatement.” —The Village VoiceSpring 2013 Arts Guide

“It is arguably not possible to imagine human stupidity on a grander scale than what Rudolph Herzog has stockpiled in his new book.” —The Brooklyn Rail

“Meticulously researched and thrillingly told—reading this is as informative as it is spine-chillingly entertaining.” — Die Zeit

Praise for Dead Funny:

“Strikingly original historical research sets it apart.” —Time Out New York

“Subtle but scathing.” —The New Republic

“A concise, compelling book” —The Independent (UK)

“Herzog, the son of the film-maker Werner Herzog, shares his father’s curious and mordant wit.” —The Financial Times