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Peddling Peril: How the Secret Nuclear Trade Arms America's Enemie Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B0039PH754
- Publisher : Free Press; Reprint edition (24 February 2010)
- Language : English
- File size : 879 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 306 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 1,682,506 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
Given the potential consequences of nuclear proliferation and the complexity of the issues, one would hope experts in this field could summarize issues in a way that policy makers (and the public) can understand and take action.
Unfortunately the author (who I respect tremendously,) and the book fails- the author provides a laundry list of facts and fails to integrate them in a coherent whole.
Nuclear weapons complex
Trying to describe the dangers of proliferation without putting centrifuges in context of a weapons complex assumes the reader is a domain expert like the author. In the 244 pages of the book there wasn't a single description of the components of a weapons complex.
It would have been helpful to start with the U.S. Manhattan Project and describe and diagram what were the key facilities necessary for a Plutonium weapon. How were these facilities different for a U-235 weapon? Why did we and other countries choose both?
This introduction could have been done in a 2 pages and a simplified diagram of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.
Nuclear weapons Design
The goal of fissile material production is a weapon. Using U-235 versus plutonium has benefits and drawbacks. What are they? Why are fusion weapons harder to produce?
This introduction to the weapons could have been done in a 1/2 page with a diagram of the two types of fission weapons and a third showing a fusion device.
U-235 Separation Choices
Why did the U.S. initially use electromagnetic separation versus thermal, to produce U-235? Why has centrifuge separation for U-235 become the current method of U-235 production for proliferators?
This introduction could have been done in 2 pages and a diagram.
Amazingly the book lacks a diagram of the components that make up a centrifuge. Yet the numbingly long list of centrifuge parts are thrown out to the reader without context. ([...] and the NRC have simplified diagrams, so do many others.)
This didn't have to be a huge section of the book, 5 pages would have sufficed, but it would have turned the mind-numbing laundry list of facts into a coherent story.
Centrifuge separation plant
The core of this book is how Pakistan used illicit trade to build their centrifuge separation plant and closes with Iran about to complete theirs. Unbelievably nowhere in the book is a diagram of the subsystems that make up of a centrifuge separation plant. Yet a key part of the book is the litany of vendors and individuals who contributed to the illicit trade in these subsystems. Where was Leybold-Heraeus's vacuum systems used? Without a diagram these are gratuitous facts without context.
Then how are centrifuges assembled into cascades? How many are needed to get to enriched uranium? To weapons grade?
As this is the heart of the book, 5 pages with a diagram would have allowed the reader to follow the story of not only the Pakistani effort, but understood Iran's progress to date.
Iran's progress in enriching fuel would be understandable to a layman if there had been a canonical diagram of a separation plant. Then the author could have used it to show their progress year by year. No wonder policy makers and the public are confused.
The author has mined the literature for a list of people and companies who are at the heart of the proliferation scheme. Chapter Two "Pakistan Gets the Bomb" is everything that's wrong with this book. It tells the story of Pakistan and Khan's network in acquiring centrifuge and separation plants components. But it reads like an extended set of footnotes - wonderful for a researcher, but unbelievably tedious an inaccessible to anyone not filing a police report.
All it would have taken is a flow chart, org chart of or some visual way to connect the cast of characters and company's.
If this book had been marketed as a scholarly research paper I would have rated it much differently (4-stars) than one with a glossy cover and a mass-market title.
My suggestion to the author; you are a great researcher. But if the intent is to reach more than your peers who are experts in WMD and proliferation you need to be able to tell this story simply. Assume you were briefing a member of congress who wasn't a proliferation expert. You have 30 minutes and you want them to understand and remember the issues. It can be done with five diagrams.
Try drawing them and revise the book.