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A masterful reckoning from one of America's preeminent historians, Bomb Power draws a direct line from the Manhattan Project to the usurpations of George W. Bush.
The invention of the atomic bomb was a triumph of official secrecy and military discipline - the project was covertly funded at the behest of the president and, despite its massive scale, never discovered by Congress or the press. This concealment was perhaps to be expected in wartime, but Wills persuasively argues that the Manhattan Project then became a model for the covert operations and overt authority that have defined American government in the nuclear era. The wartime emergency put in place during World War II extended into the Cold War and finally the war on terror, leaving us in a state of continuous war alert for 68 years and counting. The bomb forever changed the institution of the presidency since only the president controls "the button" and, by extension, the fate of the world.
Wills underscores how radical a break this was from the division of powers established by our founding fathers and how it, in turn, has enfeebled Congress and the courts. The bomb also placed new emphasis on the president's military role, creating a cult around the commander in chief. The tendency of modern presidents to flaunt military airs, Wills points out, is entirely a postbomb phenomenon. Wills recounts how, following World War II, presidential power increased decade by decade until reaching its stunning apogee.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sageeve Prabhakaran on 12-13-10
This book provides us some insight into how the invention of atomic bomb has influenced the nature of the US presidency. I have gone through the audio book a few times and it is really good. Great work from Gary Wills.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By stpal001 on 05-16-14
Origins of the national security state
Would you consider the audio edition of Bomb Power to be better than the print version?
I have no way of knowing since I have not seen the print version.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Bomb Power?
Irrelevant question given the subject matter.
Any additional comments?
The new forced review format does not allow for a meaningful review. As a political science tome, this was an outstanding read.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful