"Two world wars, concentration camps, the obliteration of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki, and continued preparations for nuclear war illustrate the modern
world's propensity for mass destruction. . . . Yet there have been
important signs of resistance to this trend. These have included not only
the emergence of mass-based peace and disarmament movements but activist
intellectuals grappling with the growing problem posed by mass violence
among nation-states. . . . Bess examines the lives and ideas of four of
these intellectuals: Leo Szilard of Hungary and (later) the United States,
E. P. Thompson of England, Danilo Dolci of Italy, and Louise Weiss of
France. . . . Realism, Utopia, and the Mushroom Cloud is a powerful,
important scholarly work, casting new light upon some of the great issues
of modern times. Readers will learn much from it."?Lawrence S.
Wittner, Peace and Change
"Bess seeks to understand the way in which the creation of the atomic bomb
has changed the social and political situation of humankind. Are we to be
held hostage by military forces or can we transform our situation? He
describes the lives of four very different activists, each with different
views on what causes conflict and how best to address conflict. . . .
Overall, this book offers an interesting perspective on life after the
atomic bomb. . . . In asking ourselves what the possibilities of our future
are, we can turn to these lives for some guidance. . . . This book is
informative, provocative, and encourages one to consider carefully how s/he
chooses to live."?Erin McKenna, Utopian Studies
"These four lives, researched and skillfully presented by historian Michael
Bess, make fascinating stories in themselves. They also serve as useful
vehicles for examining major cross-currents of Cold War resistance. . . .
From Weiss the cynical pragmatist to Szilard the high-level fixer to
hompson the social reformer to Dolce the spiritual street organizer,
Michael Bess has woven an illuminating tapestry of human efforts to cope
with life under the mushroom cloud."?Samuel H. Day Jr., The
This book compares the careers of four intellectuals- four dissidents who shared a revulsion for the nuclear 'balance of terror' but who possessed sharply divergent visions of a post-Cold War peace.
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