The full title of Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satire is Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. If memory serves, Dr. Strangelove’s scheme to repopulate the United States after nuclear Armageddon had something to do with learning to love the bomb. “I hasten to add that since each man will be required to do prodigious service along these lines,” Dr. Strangelove explains, “the women will have to be selected for their sexual characteristics, which will have to be of a highly stimulating nature.” (The telltale concerns of Strangelove screenplay co-author Terry Southern come into view.)
Professor John Mueller is a political scientist at Ohio State who has a timely new book out. The book is Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda. Though he has nothing so exotic as Dr. Strangelove’s plans in mind, Mueller’s novel thesis is that we’ve been worrying far too much about nuclear proliferation. According to Isarel Lobby co-author Stephen Walt of Harvard, Atomic Obsession “is the most reassuring book ever written about nuclear weapons, and one of the most enjoyable to read.”
Our friend Gabriel Schoenfeld has read Mueller’s book and found nothing reassuring or enjoyable about it — and for that matter, nothing sensible either. “Apart from that,” he writes in a message alerting us to his Wall Street Journal review, “it’s a great book.”
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