In our last Post, August 2nd, we strongly recommended Washington Post journalist Dan Zack's Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age.
(See Our Recommendation on Amazon)
Unfortunately, we recently read with great disappointment Kai Bird's review in the NYTS Book Review, August 7, 2016.
While rightly praising this fine book, Bird spills a lot of ink casting stones at the three courageous activists at the heart of Mr. Zak's story. Three people who risked incarceration and worse for their Anti-Nuclear Weapons convictions and actions. They literally "walked the walk" across "The Field" (See Chap 2) to the Oak Ridge Uranium Enrichment Complex and eventually to U.S. government prosecution, trial and substantial prison time.
Bird essentially dismisses them as "stubborn souls" and "annoying, self-righteous voices from the wilderness." Though Mr. Bird writes that the book itself makes it "hard not to admire them", clearly Bird himself does not.
His review never does justice to these heroic, if law-bending, people and their moral and actual path to Oak Ridge.
He uses his review to repeat the mainstream gloom and doom official narrative that Nuclear Weapons will always be with us... so just get used to it! A cynicism that leads to words like these: "but given enough time, it is certain to happen," "that humanity is screwed," "we are stuck with Armageddon" and that our situation vis a vis these weapons is "hopeless."
What we all need to understand is that it is hopeless only if we see ourselves as helpless.
Mr. Bird apparently did not read the subtitle of Mr. Zak's book.
Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age.
These words are at the moral heart of this riveting narrative.
The three of them acted in the best prophetic tradition of non-violent resistance: Gandhi in India, King in Birmingham and Selma, Vaclav Havel in the Czech Republic, Mandela in South Africa, to name a few.
Mr. Zak's three activists faced down, at great risk to themselves, the existential threat that lives with us every second of every hour of every day and every night. Annihilation at any moment by these horrendous weapons.
Does Mr. Bird really want us to look into our childrens' and granchildrens' eyes and with an apathetic shrug tell them that they will be "stuck with Armageddon" in their "dreams?" Make that "nightmares", Mr. Bird.
He ends his review with the memorable line from Vonnegut's anti-war novel Slaughter House Five: "So it goes." If we follow Mr. Bird's line of thinking regarding Nuclear Weapons, the lament will undoubtedly be: "SO IT ENDS." But there may be none left to speak it....
We end this post with a thank you to Dan Zak for researching and writing this excellent book. You can follow his BLOG including his post on the Marshall Islands and that nation's current lawsuit against the Nuclear Armed Nations. CLICK