The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear Warby Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
Pub. Date: 04/22/2005
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Herman Kahn was the only nuclear strategist in America who might have made a living as a standup comedian. Indeed, galumphing around stages across the country, joking his way through one grotesque thermonuclear scenario after another, he came frighteningly close. In telling the story of Herman Kahn, whose 1960 book On Thermonuclear War catapulted him into celebrity… See more details below
Herman Kahn was the only nuclear strategist in America who might have made a living as a standup comedian. Indeed, galumphing around stages across the country, joking his way through one grotesque thermonuclear scenario after another, he came frighteningly close. In telling the story of Herman Kahn, whose 1960 book On Thermonuclear War catapulted him into celebrity, Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi captures an era that is still very much with usya time whose innocence, gruesome nuclear humor, and outrageous but deadly serious visions of annihilation have their echoes in the yknown unknowns and unknown unknownsy that guide policymakers in our own embattled world.Portraying a life that combined aspects of Lenny Bruce, Hitchcock, and Kubrick, Ghamari-Tabrizi presents not one Herman Kahn, but manyyone who spoke the suffocatingly dry argot of the nuclear experts, another whose buffoonery conveyed the ingenious absurdity of it all, and countless others who capered before the public, ambiguous, baffling, always open to interpretation. This, then, is a story of one thoroughly strange and captivating man as well as a cultural history of our moment. In Herman Kahnys world is a critical lesson about how Cold War analysts learned to fill in the ciphers of strategic uncertainty, and thus how we as a nation learned to live with the peculiarly inventive quality of strategy, in which uncertainty generates extravagant threat scenarios.Revealing the metaphysical behind the dryly deliberate, apparently practical discussion of nuclear strategy, this book depicts the creation of a world where clever men fashion Something out of Nothingyand establishes Herman Kahn as our first virtuoso of the unknown unknowns.
- Harvard University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.82(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.37(d)
Table of Contents
Prologue: A Matter of Faith
1. How Many Kahns Can There Be?
2. The Cold War Avant-Garde at RAND
3. The Real Dr. Strangelove
4. An Operational but Undetected Capability
5. How to Build a World with Artful Intuition
6. Faith and Insight in War-Gaming
7. The Mineshaft Gap
8. On Thermonuclear War
9. Comedy of the Unspeakable
10. Mass Murder or the Spirit of Humanism?
Epilogue: A Comic Philosophy
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Brilliant account of the private, pseudo-academic world of cold war military theory as exemplified by the RAND corporation and the celebrated "second-strike Santa Claus," Herman Kahn.