THE DEAD VOLCANO: The Background and Effects of Nuclear War Complacency

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THE DEAD VOLCANO: The Background and Effects of Nuclear War Complacency, Stephen J. Cimbala, Praeger Publishing, Westport, CT, 2002, 271 pages, $67.95.

Stephen J. Cimbala's book The Dead Volcano: The Background and Effects of Nuclear War Complacency discusses nuclear relations between the United States and the Russian Federation in the wake of the Cold War. The title is significant; it is based on a parable the author provides: "Just because people live on the side of a volcano and the volcano has not erupted for some time does not mean that the volcano will never erupt." Just because nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945 does not mean that they could not be used again.

Most of the book deals with the various treaties (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) between the United States and the former Soviet Union. As the successor state to the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation controls the majority of the nuclear weapons that belonged to the Soviet Union. Agreements to reduce the numbers of these weapons have been ongoing for some time.

Although Cimbala lays out Dead Volcano thematically, he has arranged it chronologically, detailing exhaustive calculations relating to the hypothetical use of nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia. …

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