The Nuclear Club by Jonathan R. Hunt [7/10]

Nonproliferation/proliferation of nuclear weaponry is unsurprisingly destined for a restricted audience, but it is a vital topic, and books continue to pour out covering different aspects of it. I doubt if anyone has done as much research—tertiary, secondary, and primary (including staggering amounts of archival digging)— than historian Jonathan Hunt. “The Nuclear Club: How America and the World Policed the Atom from Hiroshima to Vietnam” tackles the tale of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which got up globally in 1968, but so much more is covered than the mere ins and outs of a treaty. The author is especially compendious and strong on the swirling, changing international geopolitics within the United Nations during a time of both Cold War escalation and decolonialization. Reading the book is both enjoyably smooth and dauntingly dense; I confess it took me a while (perhaps as all good books should). Hunt’s overall thesis is, according to my reading, that beyond the idealism of preventing proliferation, and beyond fear of untrammeled Armageddon risks, what brought the Treaty into being was the shared need of the United States and the Soviet Union to solidify the “nuclear club” of the title, a world in which a few preeminent countries can have nukes and have imprimatur to prevent others from doing so. Overall, The Nuclear Club is exciting, valuable reading.

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