Synopses & Reviews
Packed with startling revelations, this inside look at the secret side of the Cold War exposes just how close America came to total annihilation
During the Cold War, a flight crew had 15 minutes to get their nuke-laden plane in the air from the moment Soviet bombers were detected—15 minutes between the earliest warning of an incoming nuclear strike and the first flash of an enemy warhead. This is the chilling true story of the incredibly risky steps our military took to protect us from that scenario, including:
• Over two thousand loaded bombers that crossed American skies. They sometimes crashed and at least nine times resulted in nuclear weapons being accidentally dropped
• A system that would use timers and rockets to launch missiles even after everyone was dead
• Disastrous atmospheric nuclear testing including the horrific runaway bomb—that fooled scientists and put thousands of men in uniform in the center of a cloud of hot fallout
• A plan to use dry lake beds to rebuild and launch a fighting force in the aftermath of nuclear war
Based on formerly classified documents, military records, press accounts, interviews and over 10 years of research, 15 Minutes is one of the most important works on the atom bomb ever written.
"America's cold war defensive strategy relied on possessing a striking force so powerful that, even after absorbing a devastating Soviet attack, it could deliver a nation-killing blow. This deterrence matured under the aegis of Gen. Curtis LeMay (1906 1990), the brilliant WWII bomber commander. Military historian Keeney (Gun Camera Pacific) reports that when LeMay took over the Strategic Air Command in 1948, he found several understaffed B-29 groups left over from WWII, a few dozen primitive atomic bombs, and no coherent strategy. With access to newly declassified documents, Keeney delivers a jolting year-by-year history of SAC's transformation into a massive worldwide force primed to launch bombers within 15 minutes of the order. He also reveals alarming numbers of lost nuclear bombs, disastrous atmospheric tests, and nuclear war near-misses. Bitterly opposed to SAC's diversion to conventional bombing in Vietnam, LeMay retired in 1965, and Keeney's detailed, often squirm-inducing account ends in an anticlimax in 1968 with SAC dwindling to a minor adjunct to America's swelling ballistic missile arsenal. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
About the Author
L. DOUGLAS KEENEY is a military historian and researcher. He is the cofounder of The Military Channel on which he hosted a series called On Target. He has since appeared on The Discovery Channel, CBS, and The Learning Channel and is the author of numerous books of military history.