This week is Innovative Learning Week at the University of Edinburgh. According to the official blurb, ILW will “be used as an opportunity for experimentation and innovation in areas which may normally be constrained by the curriculum.” The American History 2 course team have organised a series of film screenings relating to different periods in American history. We’ll be showing Glory (the Civil War), O Brother Where Art Thou? (the Great Depression), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the early Cold War), and Full Metal Jacket (the Vietnam War.)
My part in all of this is to introduce, screen, and then lead the discussion on Body Snatchers. And here’s what I plan to say! (warning: this is about 900+ words, so the longest post I have yet done on this blog!)
It is always gratifying to see items on your chosen specialism being offered by one of the major news media outlets. In this case, the BBC website offers an article looking at the history and influence of the concept of Mutual (or mutually, no one can seem to agree on which is best) Assured Destruction (MAD.)
For me, the article highlights the problem with writing in a popular medium for a diverse audience. The main issue is the need to find a schtick to hang things on, in this case the “50th anniversary of MAD.” But, that’s nonsense. John von Neumann came up with the MAD concept in the 1950s and it was further refined by Herman Kahn in On Thermonuclear War in 1960. Even a cursory browse of Wikipedia will bring that up!
For want of something substantive to say (I’m currently mired in the documents I harvested from The National Archives last month), I though it might be useful to highlight some recent scholarship in the field of nuclear history. Rather than give substantive reviews of these works (although I am working on a full review of Nuclear Apartheid) I’ll offer brief comments, plus links to reviews as appropriate.