The idea of writing a book on nuclear non-use first occurred to me in 1990 when as a doctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), I attended a presentation on the subject by Thomas Schelling. The eminent strategic scholar had discussed this subject briefly in several of his writings, but a book-length study was missing in the literature. Since then, scholars, especially of the Constructivist vein, have written on the subject of the nuclear taboo, but they tend to undervalue the material dimensions of the issue. In this book, I have developed an argument for the rise and persistence of the tradition of non-use based on reputation and image concerns while linking these factors to normative considerations. The work is partially motivated by a concern for the preservation of the tradition in light of changes taking place in the nuclear policies of the United States and other nuclear powers, as this tradition serves many cherished goals of the international community, especially in the areas of nuclear nonproliferation and prevention of nuclear war.
My work has been immensely helped by a wide array of scholars and graduate student assistants over the years. I am especially thankful to Timothy Crawford, Jeffrey Knopf, and Patrick Morgan, who made extensive comments on my full draft manuscript. Others who read and commented various chapters include the late Hayward Alker, William Bain, Rajesh Basrur, Avner Cohen, Richard Harknett, Patrick James, Paul Kapur, Hiro Katsumata, Peter Katzenstein, Christopher Layne, Michael Lipson, Mark Manger, Terry McNamee, Vincent Pouliot, Richard Price, Norrin Ripsman, T. P. Sreenivasan, John Vasquez, and Christopher Way. Special praise goes to Theodore McLauchlin