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“Super Bomb” unveils the story of the events leading up to President Harry S. Truman’s 1950 decision to develop a “super,” or hydrogen, bomb. That fateful decision and its immediate consequences are detailed in a diverse and complete account built on newly released archives and previously hidden contemporaneous interviews with more than sixty political, military, and scientific figures who were involved in the decision. Ken Young and Warner R. Schilling present the expectations, hopes, and fears of the key individuals who lobbied for and against developing the H-bomb. They portray the conflicts that arose over the H-bomb as rooted in the distinct interests of the Atomic Energy Commission, the Los Alamos laboratory, the Pentagon and State Department, the Congress, and the White House. But as they clearly show, once Truman made his decision in 1950, resistance to the H-bomb opportunistically shifted to new debates about the development of tactical nuclear weapons, continental air defense, and other aspects of nuclear weapons policy. What Super Bomb reveals is that in many ways the H-bomb struggle was a proxy battle over the morality and effectiveness of strategic bombardment and the role and doctrine of the US Strategic Air Command.

The late Warner R. Schilling was James T. Shotwell Professor of International Relations Emeritus in the department of political science at Columbia University, where he taught for six decades and served as director of Columbia’s Institute of War and Peace Studies. He published books and articles on civil-military relations, military technology, nuclear strategy, and the role of science in foreign policy.

The late Ken Young was Professor of Public Policy at King’s College, London. He was a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the author of “The American Bomb” in Britain.

Jonathan L. Schilling is a software engineer who has published articles in journals in both computer science and political science and who assisted in the preparation and editing of Super Bomb.

Robert Jervis is the Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University. Specializing in international politics in general and security policy, decision making, and theories of conflict and cooperation in particular, his Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War was published by Cornell University Press in April 2010. Among his earlier books are American Foreign Policy in a New Era (Routledge, 2005), System Effects: Complexity in Political and Social Life (Princeton, 1997); The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution (Cornell, 1989); Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, 1976); and The Logic of Images in International Relations (Columbia, 1989). Jervis also is a co-editor of the Security Studies Series published by Cornell University Press. He serves on the board of nine scholarly journals, and has authored over 100 publications. Dr. Jervis is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has also served as the president of the American Political Science Association. In 1990 he received the Grawemeyer Award for his book The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution. Dr. Jervis earned his BA from Oberlin College in 1962. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 1968. From 1968 to 1974 he was appointed Assistant (1968–1972) and Associate (1972–1974) Professor of Government at Harvard University. From 1974 to 1980 he was Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Richard K. Betts is the Leo A. Shifrin Professor of War and Peace Studies in the political science department,  and Director of the International Security Policy program in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Betts served as Institute Director for over 23 years.  He was Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations for four years and is now an adjunct Senior Fellow there. Previously he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and adjunct Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. He also served at different times on the Harvard University faculty as Lecturer and Visiting Professor. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in Government from Harvard.

A former staff member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the National Security Council, and the Mondale Presidential Campaign, Betts has been an occasional consultant to the National Intelligence Council and Departments of State and Defense, served on the Military Advisory Panel for three Directors of Central Intelligence in the 1990s and later on the External Advisory Board for the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and was a member of the National Commission on Terrorism. He lectures occasionally at schools such as the National War College, Foreign Service Institute, and service academies. He served briefly as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Betts’ first book, Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crises, originally published by Harvard University Press, was issued in a second edition by Columbia University Press. He is author of two other Columbia University Press books: Enemies of Intelligence and American Force; three books published by the Brookings Institution: Surprise Attack, Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance, and Military Readiness; coauthor and editor of three other Brookings books: The Irony of Vietnam, Nonproliferation and U.S. Foreign Policy, and Cruise Missiles; editor of Conflict After the Cold War, published by Pearson; and co-editor of Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence, from Cass. Betts has published numerous articles on foreign policy, military strategy, intelligence, conventional forces, nuclear weapons, arms trade, collective security, strategic issues in Asia and Europe, terrorism, and other subjects in professional journals. His writings won five prizes, and he received the International Studies Association’s ISSS Distinguished Scholar Award in 2005 and MIT’s Doolittle Award in 2012.

James J. Wirtz joined the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in 1990 as a professor for the department of National Security Affairs. He has taught courses on nuclear strategy, international relations theory, and intelligence while at NPS. He served as Chair of the National Security Affairs from January 2000 and January 2005. He currently serves as Dean of the School of International Graduate Studies. Wirtz is also a renowned author, and is presently working on a monograph entitled Theory of Surprise. He is also editor of the Palgrave Macmillan series, Initiatives in Strategic Studies: Issues and Policies.

Wirtz is a past president of the International Security and Arms Control Section of the American Political Science Association and the former section chair of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association. In 2005, he was a visiting professor at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University. He began his teaching career at Franklin & Marshall College, Penn State University and the State University of New York, Binghamton.

A native of New Jersey, Wirtz earned his degrees in Political Science from Columbia University (MPhil 1987, PhD 1989), and the University of Delaware (MA 1983, BA 1980). In 1985-86 he was a John M. Olin Pre-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University.

Stuart Gottlieb is Adjunct Professor of International Affairs and Public Policy at SIPA, where he teaches courses on American foreign policy, counterterrorism, and international security. He also serves as Faculty Director for the certificate degree program in International Relations, and is a member of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. In addition, he teaches courses for New York University’s graduate program in International Politics. Prior to joining SIPA in 2003, Gottlieb worked for five years in the United States Senate, first as senior foreign policy adviser to Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, and subsequently as policy adviser and chief speechwriter for Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut. He has also worked on several political campaigns, including New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani’s reelection campaign in 1997 and presidential campaign in 2008. Gottlieb continues to consult with political and business leaders, and regularly publishes op-eds and other policy-related articles. A second edition of his book, Debating Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Conflicting Perspectives on Causes, Contexts, and Responses (CQ Press), was published in 2013, and he is currently working on a forthcoming book titled Experimental Power: The Rise and Role of America in World Affairs (Yale University Press). Gottlieb holds a BA in political science and journalism from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a PhD in international relations from Columbia University.