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Avoiding Armageddon
Martin Schram

Posted June 18, 2003

Published by (Basic Books, 0-645-07255-0
) $26.00 US / $40.00 CAN

Since the end of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear biological or chemical attacks - the "weapons of mass destruction" in today's headlines - being unleashed against civilian populations has loomed ever larger. A deadly combination of shortsighted mistakes by Western governments, chaos in the former Soviet Union, and virulent international terrorism has succeeded in making us all far more vulnerable than any would like to admit. Avoiding Armageddon is a world citizen's guide to the worst possible threats to our individual and national security - from easily accessible uranium to smallpox outbreaks to a new breed of suicide bombers - and what we can do to save ourselves, our country and the planet. 

Published in conjunction with the eight hour PBS series, Avoiding Armageddon focuses our attention like never before on threats posed by terrorism and unsecured weapons of mass destruction. It delves into an exploration of those who endanger our national interest, the forms their threats might take, and what can be done to avert the kinds of disasters likely to ensue.

Drawing on numerous interviews with world leaders, experts, former terrorists and would be nuclear thieves, Martin Schram explains how and why biological chemical and nuclear warfare may very well be our next nightmare. Reporting from hot spots around the globe, Avoiding Armageddon is a riveting and sober story of America's - and the world's - vulnerability in an age of terrorism. 

Impeccably researched and compellingly written, it offers an original assessment of how a the threats and solutions are intertwined and how world leaders and citizens must act boldly to insure our personal national and global security.

"Shortly after midnight on November 27, 1993, on the grounds of the Sevmorput shipyard just outside Murmansk, a respected Captain in the Russian Navy...easily slipped through one of the many holes in the unsecured fence that was intended to safeguard Fuel Storage Area 3-30. It had been no problem finding the holes in the fence; they were right where his younger brother...had told him they would be - easy to spot and unguarded. Once inside the grounds he had no difficulty in finding the storage building, sawing off the padlock and prying open the door with a metal pole that he found lying obligingly on the ground next to the building that was his intended target. Inside, he found the area where the submarine fuel is kept and then located Container Number 23. Next he simply lifted off the lid, ripped away pieces of three assemblies of a VM-4-Am reactor core, and slipped the broken pieces - which amounted to 4.5 kilograms of enriched uranium - into a bag...

"Looking back,  the chief investigator for the Northern Fleet Military Procuracy, Mikhail Kulik, had no doubts about how the theft had occurred. And he had no excuses and minced no words in talking about the security problems that allowed it to occur. Potatoes were guarded better than naval fuel, kulik said." - From Avoiding Armageddon

Martin Schram has been a Washington-based journalist and editor for more than three decades. The author of four books, he writes a column for the Scripps Howard News Service that is distributed nationally to more than four hundred newspapers. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland.


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