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Author Topic:   A Fiery Peace in a Cold War (Neil Sheehan)
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-17-2010 07:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This book is recent but not newly-released, having come out in September 2009, however I think it may be of interest to readers...

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon
by Neil Sheehan

From Neil Sheehan, author of the Pulitzer Prize -- winning classic A Bright Shining Lie, comes this long-awaited, magnificent epic. Here is the never-before-told story of the nuclear arms race that changed history-and of the visionary American Air Force officer Bernard Schriever, who led the high-stakes effort. A Fiery Peace in a Cold War is a masterly work about Schriever's quests to prevent the Soviet Union from acquiring nuclear superiority, to penetrate and exploit space for America, and to build the first weapons meant to deter an atomic holocaust rather than to be fired in anger.

Sheehan melds biography and history, politics and science, to create a sweeping narrative that transports the reader back and forth from individual drama to world stage. The narrative takes us from Schriever's boyhood in Texas as a six-year-old immigrant from Germany in 1917 through his apprenticeship in the open-cockpit biplanes of the Army Air Corps in the 1930s and his participation in battles against the Japanese in the South Pacific during the Second World War. On his return, he finds a new postwar bipolar universe dominated by the antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Inspired by his technological vision, Schriever sets out in 1954 to create the one class of weapons that can enforce peace with the Russians-intercontinental ballistic missiles that are unstoppable and can destroy the Soviet Union in thirty minutes. In the course of his crusade, he encounters allies and enemies among some of the most intriguing figures of the century: John von Neumann, the Hungarian-born mathematician and mathematical physicist, who was second in genius only to Einstein; Colonel Edward Hall, who created the ultimate ICBM in the Minuteman missile, and his brother, Theodore Hall, who spied for the Russians at Los Alamos and hastened their acquisition of the atomic bomb; Curtis LeMay, the bomber general who tried to exile Schriever and who lost his grip on reality, amassing enough nuclear weapons in his Strategic Air Command to destroy the entire Northern Hemisphere; and Hitler's former rocket maker, Wernher von Braun, who along with a colorful, riding-crop-wielding Army general named John Medaris tried to steal the ICBM program.

The most powerful men on earth are also put into astonishing relief: Joseph Stalin, the cruel, paranoid Soviet dictator who spurred his own scientists to build him the atomic bomb with threats of death; Dwight Eisenhower, who backed the ICBM program just in time to save it from the bureaucrats; Nikita Khrushchev, who brought the world to the edge of nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and John Kennedy, who saved it.

Schriever and his comrades endured the heartbreak of watching missiles explode on the launching pads at Cape Canaveral and savored the triumph of seeing them soar into space. In the end, they accomplished more than achieving a fiery peace in a cold war. Their missiles became the vehicles that opened space for America.

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st Edition edition (September 22, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0679422846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679422846

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-17-2010 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's the article that brought the above book to my attention...

Las Cruces Sun News: Pulitzer winner to attend space-flight symposium

Last Wednesday, I had dinner in Washington, D.C. with Neil Sheehan, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner. We discussed his recently released book, "A Fiery Peace in a Cold War." He will be joining us this fall in Las Cruces at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.

The book details the development of our country's space industry. Many of the facts in the book were once classified; the details of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) programs that opened up space were vividly written in Sheehan's meticulous journalistic style.


Posts: 791
From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 08-18-2010 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for flagging this one Robert, I will have to get a copy.

I do wish someone would put together a biography based on the life and work of Bob Gilruth.


Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 08-19-2010 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read this book when it first came out and ended up with decidedly mixed feelings about it. He did much to characterize quite a few of the major players at the time, though I question how accurately in some cases. He gave something a short shrift to the technological side of things to focus on the people and organization, which I suppose was Benny's strong point. As a historian, I found the lack of citations (other than generalized at the end) was disappointing, but I guess not unexpected for a more journalistic biography. That said, it's a great portrayal of a critical figure and period in the Cold War.

All times are CT (US)

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