Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom

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Product Details
$35.00  $32.55
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.41 X 1.5 X 9.41 inches | 2.1 pounds

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About the Author

Elaine Scarry, a professor of English and American literature at Harvard University, is the author of The Body in Pain. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Eloquent.--Richard Rhodes
A really remarkable work, ranging across ethics, law and politics to pose genuinely radical challenges to the confused and potentially lethal systems that pass for democracy in our world. A painfully timely intervention.--Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and former Archbishop of Canterbury
Elaine Scarry offers a coruscating critique of current policies, arguing that they are antithetic to the spirit of the U.S. constitution, and indeed to basic democratic principles. This eloquent and scholarly book offers a compelling case for swifter progress toward their elimination.--Martin Rees, astronomer royal of England
Elaine Scarry is right: Americans live in a thermonuclear monarchy.--Kennette Benedict
The premise of this book is as relevant as it is horrifying, that the power to inflict great harm doesn't belong to those that it supposedly protects. I congratulate Elaine Scarry on her intellectual courage and moral clarity and in proposing the only possible way out.--Marcelo Gleiser, author of A Tear at the Edge of Creation
Even someone unpersuaded by Elaine Scarry's constitutional analysis cannot avoid being gripped by her stark depiction of how utterly incompatible our eighteenth-century constitutional structure and the social contract it embodies are with our twenty-first-century weapons of mass destruction, weapons that can annihilate tens of millions of human souls in the blink of an eye and at the whim of a single individual, consulting with no one. A sober and haunting meditation on this tension between our institutions and our capacities, Scarry's book requires any thoughtful reader to revisit the basic postulates and the deepest human purposes of our system of government.--Laurence H. Tribe, professor of constitutional law, Harvard Law School
A few years ago General Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, condemned the 'faith in nuclear weapons' to which his life had been wrongly dedicated and the 'breathtaking audacity' in maintaining them when 'we should stand trembling in the face of our folly and united in our commitment to abolish its most deadly manifestations.' In this fascinating study, Elaine Scarry adds rich historical, philosophical, literary, and legal depth to Butler's grim warnings, with novel and provocative insights. That we have escaped disaster so far is a near miracle. Scarry's remarkable contribution should inspire us to abolish this colossal folly.--Noam Chomsky
[U]rgent and lucid ... [a] prolonged rallying cry of a book.--Kenneth Baker
Scarry's assault on the reigning complacency about nuclear weapons rests on her belief in the capacity of an interpretation to reconfigure the world.--Nathan Schneider
Scarry's book requires any thoughtful reader to revisit the basic postulates and the deepest human purposes of our system of government.--Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School
Thermonuclear Monarchy is a work of deadly serious political science by an analyst dwelling on the constitutional implications of giving a democratically elected president sovereign-like autocracy.--Nick Smith