Read The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War by Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi Online


Herman Kahn was the only nuclear strategist in America who might have made a living as a standup comedian Indeed, galumphing around stages across the country, joking his way through one grotesque thermonuclear scenario after another, he came frighteningly close In telling the story of Herman Kahn, whose 1960 book On Thermonuclear War catapulted him into celebrity, Sharon Ghamari Tabrizi captures an era that is still very much with us a time whose innocence, gruesome nuclear humor, and outrageous but deadly serious visions of annihilation have their echoes in the known unknowns and unknown unknowns that guide policymakers in our own embattled world Portraying a life that combined aspects of Lenny Bruce, Hitchcock, and Kubrick, Ghamari Tabrizi presents not one Herman Kahn, but many one who spoke the suffocatingly dry argot of the nuclear experts, another whose buffoonery conveyed the ingenious absurdity of it all, and countless others who capered before the public, ambiguous, baffling, always open to interpretation This, then, is a story of one thoroughly strange and captivating man as well as a cultural history of our moment In Herman Kahn s world is a critical lesson about how Cold War analysts learned to fill in the ciphers of strategic uncertainty, and thus how we as a nation learned to live with the peculiarly inventive quality of strategy, in which uncertainty generates extravagant threat scenarios Revealing the metaphysical behind the dryly deliberate, apparently practical discussion of nuclear strategy, this book depicts the creation of a world where clever men fashion Something out of Nothing and establishes Herman Kahn as our first virtuoso of the unknown unknowns....

Title : The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0674017145
Format Type : Hardcover
Language : English
Publisher : Harvard University Press 1 edition April 22, 2005
Number of Pages : 432 pages
File Size : 797 KB
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War Reviews

  • Scott H. Miller
    2019-04-25 13:30

    Perhaps one of the brightest minds of the 20th century, Herman Kahn's past is as checkered as they come - A self-made man who began life unremarkably as the son of a New York City tailor in 1922. After his parents divorce, young Herman moved to Los Angeles with his mother. When WWII broke out, Kahn enlisted in the Army and this future icon of Cold War American nuclear deterrence strategy served in a non-combat role as a telephone lineman in the China-Burma-India theater. Kahn later obtained a B.S. in Physics from UCLA and continued his studies at Caltech, with the goal of garnering a Ph.D. Instead, personal financial woes forced him to abandon his studies after earning a Master's degree (Surprisingly, although a prolific author of studies and reports - many of which could have served as the basis for a Ph.D. thesis, he never obtained one). He began an brief and unsuccessful foray into the Southern California real estate business, before joining the RAND Corporation headquartered in Santa Monica, CA in the late 1940s. After some initial work on the early nuclear weapons program and RAND, he became one of that esteemed think-tank's renown scholars:Kahn devoted himself to developing Systems Analysis as a viable science by publishing various papers on component areas - including brilliant forays into Game Theory; Military Force Acquisition and Deployment; and famously - Nuclear Deterrence Strategy - among other topics. inding the yoke of the RAND Corporation hard to bear, Kahn undertook a transcontinental location to a suburban area north of New York City where he founded his own think-tank - the highly-regarded and respected Hudson Institute. Ghamari-Tabrizi's book fills in the gaps of Kahn's professional life with many of the hitherto unknown vignettes and stories. For one, we learn that he was investigated more than once by Hoover's FBI - which stripped him of his access to the nation's nuclear weapons development secrets due to the fact that a brother-in-law was suspected of leftist/communist views. Also, Kahn drew the FBI's attention after participating in LSD experiments during the 1950s. Kahn moved easily in the highest academic and military/defense industry circles despite his lack of a Ph.D. He was corpulent, gregarious (annoying so according to eGhamari-Tabrizi), and patently eccentric, with a disordered and scatter-brained approach to research, and some of his ideas were scathingly denigrated in his lifetime. For example, the 'masterpiece' of Kahn's work - always said to be "On Thermonuclear War" - OTW for short- (although Ghamari-Tabrizi doesn't discount the value of his earlier research and scholarly papers during his time at the RAND Corp.) published immediately upon his resignation from RAND, OTW was offered for general public consumption, and as Ghamari-Tabrizi makes abundantly clear, was equally fascinating and appalling - depending upon one's preconceived notions of worldwide nuclear war and willingness to "think about the unthinkable." Kahn endured scorn, while enjoying support from his many fans - ranging from housewives had read OTW when it was published as a Book-of-the-Month, to members of academia and the military/industrial complex. Fellow former RAND scholars like Bernard Brodie and Albert Wohlstetter - who had worked for years with Kahn and understood his genius as well as his eccentricities. were more circumspect and muted in their mixtures of praise and criticism. Kahn's notions, especially those expressed in OTW, were repeated almost word-for-word by Peter Seller's in his role as Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 cult movie of the same name. In fact, Khan, who became friends with Stanley Kubrick who directed "Dr. Strangelove" - reportedly asked Kubrick for a share of the movie's royalties. Kubrick declined. Similarly his ponderings regarding 'accidental nuclear war' were expressed in the other 1964 nuclear war thriller - "Fail Safe" - and Khan has been credited with serving as an intellectual model for one of the movie's characters, nuclear warfare expert Dr. Groeteschele, portrayed in a cold-blooded and slightly sinister manner by actor Walter Matthau.. In later years, he authored several works on nuclear war and became a noted futurist. Sadly, Kahn passed in 1983 at the age of 61, and was still active in scholarly endeavors, and so we will never know what other thought-provoking works he might have given us. And this was the (complicated) world of Herman Kahn - the man who had enough faith in mankind to know the world would never end in a nuclear holocaust, as long as man applied his reasoning and his intellect.

  • Amazon Customer
    2019-04-03 15:09

    Very interesting topic, but the text wandered around so badly I abandoned the book 1/2 way through. Perhaps "rambling" would be a better description. This is the fault of poor editing, not so much authorship. Some good, important information in here if you can persevere.

  • Mark S. Hewitt
    2019-03-31 11:12

    Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi describes herself as an independent scholar living in Champaign Illinois. She earned a doctorate in 1993 from the History of Consciousness Program, University of California at Santa Cruz with a specialization in the social studies of science and technology. Based on biographical material posted on her website, she's covered some ground, academically and geographically speaking. This interesting person has written and interesting and useful book.