Fail Safe

( 14 )

Overview

Something has gone wrong. A group of American bombers armed with nuclear weapons is streaking past the fail-safe point, beyond recall, and no one knows why. Their destination -- Moscow.

In a bomb shelter beneath the White House, the calm young president turns to his Russian translator and says, "I think we are ready to talk to Premier Kruschchev." Not far away, in the War Room at the Pentagon, the secretary of defense and his aides watch with growing anxiety as the luminous ...

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Fail-Safe

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Overview

Something has gone wrong. A group of American bombers armed with nuclear weapons is streaking past the fail-safe point, beyond recall, and no one knows why. Their destination -- Moscow.

In a bomb shelter beneath the White House, the calm young president turns to his Russian translator and says, "I think we are ready to talk to Premier Kruschchev." Not far away, in the War Room at the Pentagon, the secretary of defense and his aides watch with growing anxiety as the luminous blips crawl across a huge screen map. High over the Bering Strait in a large Vindicator bomber, a colonel stares in disbelief at the attack code number on his fail-safe box and wonders if it could possibly be a mistake.

First published in 1962, when America was still reeling from the Cuban missle crisis, Fail-Safe reflects the apocalyptic attitude that pervaded society during the height of the Cold War, when disaster could have struck at any moment. As more countries develop nuclear capabilities and the potential for new enemies lurks on the horizon, Fail-Safe and its powerful issues continue to respond.

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Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
Norman Cousins noted in Saturday Review that the novel is "less about an ultimate war between one nation and another than it is about the ultimate war between man and his machines. . . . The book becomes an essay on man--and a powerful one. It indicates that as man has gone up in the order of power he has gone down in the order of control." When Cousins asked the author if this kind of accident was possible, Burdick replied: "I believe it to be inevitable under the present circumstances. That is why [Harvey Wheeler and I] wrote this book. I don't know of a scientist who has a direct knowledge of `fail-safe' who isn't worried."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780880016544
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 239,363
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Eugene Burdick (1918-1965) taught at the University of California at Berkely and was chairman of the World Affairs Council in San Francisco. Among his many books is The Ugly American, the internationally famous novel written with Bill Lederer.

Harvey Wheeler has been a professor of political philosophy at several institutions, including Harvard and Johns Hopkins. He is the author of several books, including Educare and The Rise of the Elders, a novel. He currently lives in Southern California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(4)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A terrifying tale of a thermonuclear accident.

    A terrifying tale of our world tottering on the brink of a thermonuclear war. Within the SAC command located at Omaha, Nebraska, a mechanical failure occurs that send six Vindicator Bombers; each loaded with 40megaton nuclear bombs, pass their fail-safe point. Their target: Moscow. It's an accident and the generals and even the President tries to recall the bombers, but nothing works. It's a gripping tale and its almost unbearable as time ticks away and then the president must make a decision to stop the Russian retaliation which would surely result in global annihilation. Highly recommend.

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  • Posted June 7, 2010

    Fail Safe

    This book was a bit of a disappointment. It is not quite the "war" book you would think it would be. Almost the entire book takes place in a couple days and deals with characters. At certain points the character development gets very boring. However, you do get a very good sense of who the characters in the book actually are, their thoughts, and reasons behind all of their actions. The book seemed to only begin to climax at the very end, when all of the plot development seems to quickly end in a very odd way. The ending was good, not what you would expect but seemed almost rushed in a way. Over all though, the book was very interesting.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    Fail Safe

    The book was mainly explaining things about each character every chapter towards the end. Some of the character info was not needed because they were not used as much. The book had a good ending, but the reader needs to be able to last through all of the character info to get to the ending that only lasts for about 20-30 pages. Book not recommended.

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  • Posted May 3, 2010

    Not recomendable

    This book, while raising questions about our government, was not the fast pace gripping novel it promised. The first 100 to 150 pages were of useless and heavy character background that did not come in handy in the end of the story.
    However, once the first half or so of the book was done with, the last bit was indeed incredible engrossing but, up until then, it was nothing of the sort.
    I would not recomend this novel due to the slow build up and useless characters.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2010

    Fail Safe

    I believe that the book fail safe had a bad ending and story line because they would never be bombing New York and the whole book had characters that were put into the story that had no importance to it. I think that the characters clashed together and after a couple pages through the book you believe that they have an importance but you end up finding they don't. For example, the president had just a few facts put in about him, and on the other hand his partners had pages and pages detailed about them. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    Fail Safe

    Burdick's novel Fail-Safe is a somber reminder of what could happen if computer systems set up by people were to fail. When a low flying commercial plane is flying over the United States, an alert is sent to the control center in Omaha that is stationed 400 ft. underground to avoid nuclear fallout in case of war. Before they know that the plane is friendly, the colonel sends bomber planes to hover over certain places called fail safe points. If there is ever a need for action a red light flashes inside the plane telling to pilots to read the top secret envelopes that have been given to them pre flight. When the computer system fails, a group of planes armed with four nuclear warheads is sent to bomb Moscow, the capital of Russia. This book is extremely suspenseful and will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.

    Mtn

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2003

    An Awesome Read

    When this book originally came out my father was the Base Commander of Offutt AFB, the SAC HQ in Nebraska. I first read it in a serialized version that was published, I believe, in 'Life' magazine. The entire country was mesmerized by the story, with everyone trying to guess the ending. It's an excellent story with character development that is uncharacteristic of the more-recent 'program' novels. A few things have changed, but the book is as relevant now as it was then.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2003

    Suspenseful plot + Real characters = Stunned reader!

    Fail Safe was an overall good book. I can't give it an outstanding rating, though, because half the book is entirely character development and exposition. If Burdick and Wheeler (I think Wheeler was the main author after Burdick passed away) had found a way to get the story moving and introduce us to the characters at the same time, it would have been a nearly-flawless book. Forge on past chapter seven--you'll be rewarded at the end of the book. It's Mind-shattering.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2001

    Good not Grand

    Fail Safe was written very well and has a good basis for a plot. The one thing i do not like those is the long and tedious to read middle section of this book filled with character description. If you could overlook that the book is okay.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2001

    Wonderful Book

    This book is so good, I couldn't stop reading it. Thhe characters are so real and you can feel the tension. It will keep you thinking for years to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2000

    Good from the first page to the last

    I found the old 1960s version of 'Fail-Safe' in a box of my dad's old books. I sure am glad I did. 'Fail-Safe' shows that nothing can ever be completely foolproof, but does so in such a riveting way. The story keeps adding new elements as it goes along and has a aurprising ending. I would suggust this book to almost anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2000

    TICK...TICK...TICK...

    As a boy in 1964 I first saw the movie version of 'Fail-Safe' but didn't really understand it too well. Ten years later, in high school, I read the book and saw the movie again and came away scared to death. George Clooney's April 9, 2000 live TV movie only made me think that we are all fools if we believe that the Cold War is over. Nine countries either have nuclear weapons or the ability to make them and the strategic balance is shifting with China now having American nuclear secrets that the administration allowed them to have. No system is foolproof. Any one of a thousand or a million things could go wrong and cause a catastrophe like the one portrayed in 'Fail-Safe'. Remember 'Challenger' and 'Chernobyl'. Remember Murphy's Law. in any system, humans are the weakest link. We are still teetering. The Balance of Terror.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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