Avoiding Armageddon
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Martin Schram

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Book Review from Hallevents.com
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Avoiding Armageddon
by Martin Schram

World issues...analysis and solutions....one view In a classic example to the power of anecdotal style of writing for discussing "serious" issues, Schram is successful in conveying the perils faced by the world (mostly from the Western, and more specifically from the US point of view). The book has been organized into distinct and independent sections covering various aspects of the terrorist threats. The author does manage to convey important ideas and some potential solutions (mostly utopian dreams) to the problems identified in each section (the identification of the problem and the analysis of the origins of the problems are well discussed and documented). Of particular interest were the section on nuclear threat in the South Asia, and the interview with terrorist "planner" from Al-Queda. In the former, the author provides a chilling array fo scenarios of what could happen if indeed a nuclear war does erupt in South Asia. The dangers of "fog of war" , quoting mostly Pakistani army personnel and US analysts makes for some compelling reading. The section also provides an interesting account of how the two main players - India and Pakistan became nuclear players from the seemingly innocent "atoms of peace" program. The role of the West (particularly US and Canada) in the case of India and the role of China (in Pakistan's program) is well discussed. The author fails to provide any "reasonable and practical" solutions to defuse the tense situations. The same holds true for most of the book - good discussions on problem statement and description, fairly good analysis, not-so-great proposed solution methods. There is also a section on what ordinary citizens and "world leaders" can do to decrease the threats mentioned in the book..makes for some interesting reading, but doubtful if any foreign policy framers would abide by it, given the political framework the foreign poliocy decisions have to depend on.

Overall, the book is well-organized, written for easy reading, avoids political hyperboles (though a tinge of leftist agenda is noticable at times), and provides an excellent summary pf the origins of most of the current threats we face as a world . A must read for anyone remotely interested in current affairs, foreign policy and modern history.

Book Review from militaryink.com
April 2003

Avoiding Armageddon. The Companion Book to the PBS Series by Martin Schram
Basic Books, $26.00 | Hardcover | 260 pages | 0465072550

Published in conjunction with the eight-hour public television series airing this Spring, Avoiding Armageddon focuses our attention like never before on threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. It engages the reader in an exploration of who endangers our national interest, the forms their threats might take, and what can be done to avert the kinds of disasters likely to ensue from the use of unsecured weapons. Martin Schram and his team of reporters explain why biological, chemical, and nuclear warfare may very well be our next nightmare. Using interviews with an international team of experts, Avoiding Armageddon is a riveting story of America's newfound vulnerability and offers a new understanding of the future contours of our personal, national, and global security.

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.

Foreign Affairs
May/June 2003

Avoiding Armageddon.
Martin Schram. New York: Basic Books, 2003, 256 pp. $26.00

Peace and Conflict
Arms Control, Nuclear Weapons, and Disarmament

The advantage of this book is that it conveys a sense of the grimmer aspects of the modern world from the bottom up. Based on a series for the Public Broadcasting System, it covers the dangers of nuclear war in the first part, chemical and biological weapons in the second, terrorism in the third, and some ideas for a better world in the fourth. Perhaps inevitably, the first three parts are more convincing than the fourth, which underscores the need to deal with issues such as aids and poverty but does not address how to resolve the political conflicts that are most likely to trigger the terrible possibilities described in earlier parts. The book's real value lies in its accounts of those caught up in efforts to produce noxious weapons and those tryi ng to establish control over those weapons, as well as of victims of past tragedies from Chernobyl to the sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway to the Kurds in Halabja, Iraq.

-- Reviewed by Lawrence D. Freedman

April 10

'Avoiding Armageddon' not light reading
-- Bookshelf, by Bob Powers

"Avoiding Armageddon: Our Future. One Choice" (Basic Books, $26) should be one of those books that every thinking person will take home. The book, published in conjunction with a PBS television series and produced by Ted Turner Documentaries, gives the reader some sound advice on how we the people can help assure that the proper moves are made to prevent catastrophes from occurring across the next few years. The TV series runs on PBS stations April 14-17. As comic Jim Varney as "Ernest" used to say, "Be there or be square."

Newspaper columnist Martin Schram has put together 350 pages of important information, ranging from the expected problems to those which haven't reached the average citizen's attention. While this material isn't easy reading in some cases, Schram does the job that any good popularizer should do. He makes things clear and fairly easy to understand. Among the early chapters is one devoted to Operation: Iraqi Freedom, which is occurring as I write this column. Besides devoting considerable attention to Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, the book takes a solemn look at the problems we face, along with solutions that seem to make sense.

Schram offers a way to rid the world of biological, chemical and nuclear warfare. It would seem that such actions are at the top of what peace-loving people everywhere should work for.

Devastation from even a "small" atomic bomb could wreak havoc. Before the beginning of the war against Saddam, it had been estimated Iraq would have three nuclear bombs by 2005. People up to a mile away would die, and the Empire State Building, where the bomb would be placed, would be vaporized. Buildings within 600 feet would collapse as would the underground infrastructure of subways, wiring and pipes. People up to a mile away could be killed or maimed. Schram said up to 200,000 people could die.

Experts from all aspects of science and government were interviewed for the book, including Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S, Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Senator Warren Rudman.

Review from Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah
March 28, 2003, page C02

Avoiding Armageddon
Martin Schram. Basic, $26 (260) ISBN 0-465-07255-0

This book is a companion volume to the PBS television series of the same name, scheduled to air April 14-17. Schram, a journalist and editor based in Washington, D.C., offers "a world citizen's guide" to the current threats to individual and national security. In the process, he discusses easily accessible uranium, smallpox outbreaks and a new breed of suicide bombers.

Schram presents a well-written account of the problems relating to modern war, including practical advice about how we as Americans and as individuals might handle the new threats to our future. He concludes that the United States is vulnerable to terrorism on several different levels and suggests bold ways of dealing with them.

One of Schram's ideas comes from South Africa's Nelson Mandela, who said, "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its' opposite." Schram concludes..."leaders of all nations need to stand up and take the lead in a broad movement to provide the economic, infrastructure and health care support to developing nations that will begin to alleviate the despair and anger of those who may be recruited by, or provide sanctuaries for, terrorists."

-- Dennis Lythgoe

Copyright © 2003 Deseret News Publishing Co. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Reviews
March 3, 2003

Avoiding Armageddon; Our Future. Our Choice.
Martin Schram. Basic, $26 (260) ISBN 0-465-07255-0

This companion book to a PBS series (airing April 14 - 17) details the threats facing the U.S. today - from nuclear, chemical and biological attack and from terrorism - and outlines possible solutions. Schram, a syndicated columnist for Scripps-Howard, succeeds admirably in translating eight hours of documentary footage into anecdotal prose. There is a wealth of historical and statistical detail here (for example, that there are 32,000 nuclear bombs and warheads on the planet, all but 2,000 belonging to the U.S. and Russia), but Schram lets the interviews carry the book. Thus Leonid Smirnoff, a former foreman at a Russian chemical-research site, tells how he easily siphoned off enriched uranium to sell on the black market, enough for a terrorist to build a nuclear bomb. An Iraqi defector who worked on Saddam Hussein's nuclear program details how, in 1956, the U.S. gave Iraq the Manhattan Project reports through its ill-advised Atoms for Peace program. In discussing chemical threats, Schram details efforts by companies like DuPont and Dow after WWI to sell legislators on the idea of "humane" chemical warfare. Also alarming is the section on Project 112, in which the U.S. Army and Navy targeted populations in American cities in secret open-air biological tests. The centerpiece of the section on terrorism is an informative series of interviews with Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on al-Qaeda. Gunaratna notably singles out terrorist propaganda as a powerful fund-raising and recruitment tool that must be dismantled if the war on terror is to succeed. The final section of the book outlines solutions aimed at addressing the poverty and political unrest around the world that he says foster terrorism and other potential threats.

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