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The Doomsday Machine

Narrated by: Steven Cooper
Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.8 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

Non-member price: $29.65

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Publisher's 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

What listeners say about The Doomsday Machine

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Necessary reading

Both utterly terrifying, and amazingly insightful in its contents. Absolutely necessary reading for everyone, everywhere.

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Wise and terrifying

Our species is hanging on by a slender thread of our own making. This is the most important, erudite and terrifying book you’ll ever read.

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A must read

Everyone should read this book. And if everyone did read this book, humanity might have a hope for the future.

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Remarkable, terrifying and hugely important

Remarkable insight into the worlds biggest threat and inner workings of nuclear war planning from an unusually informed source

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  • Terry Masters
  • 07-12-2017

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
  • 13-12-2017

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.

23 people found this helpful

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  • XReviewer
  • 15-12-2017

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
  • 03-09-2019

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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  • Philomath
  • 10-12-2017

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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  • Jeanna
  • 26-01-2020

Good Story but....

I really think this book would be more interesting to read. The narrator is so boring. I know this is a serious book but some kind of emotion by the narrator would be nice. He sounds like a prerecorded message. My Alexa echo dot has more personality than the narrator and she is AI. Anyway, I stopped listening and wish I would have bought the book because it is a very interesting subject and this threat did not end after the Cold War.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Randall
  • 25-08-2019

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
  • 20-03-2018

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
  • 19-03-2018

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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  • Den Ardinger
  • 28-02-2018

A Truly Eye Opening Book!

What did you love best about The Doomsday Machine?

Being a retired USAF Colonel, I thought I was well aware of the structure, procedures, and thought processes behind our decades old system for handling and using nuclear weapons. Boy was I ever mistaken! This book proves otherwise.

What did you like best about this story?

This is a well thought out history of how we came to stand at the foot of the doomsday clock. It points out just how flimsy the entire system is.

Which scene was your favorite?

I was not aware of how closely we came to using nuclear weapons in more than two dozen cases since World War II.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutely! I couldn't stop listening.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Thad Beumont
  • 24-01-2018

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-06-2018

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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  • AG
  • 28-01-2018

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-05-2020

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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  • matt bowden
  • 09-01-2018

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