15 Minutes: General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation


by: Keeney, L. Douglas
Format: Hardcover

price comparison



Product Description Packed with startling revelations, this inside look at the secret side of the Cold War exposes just how close America came to total annihilation During the Cold War, a flight crew had 15 minutes to get their nuke-laden plane in the air from the moment Soviet bombers were detected--15 minutes between the earliest warning of an incoming nuclear strike and the first flash of an enemy warhead. This is the chilling true story of the incredibly risky steps our military took to protect us from that scenario, including: • Over two thousand loaded bombers that crossed American skies. They sometimes crashed and at least nine times resulted in nuclear weapons being accidentally dropped • A system that would use timers and rockets to launch missiles even after everyone was dead • Disastrous atmospheric nuclear testing including the horrific runaway bomb--that fooled scientists and put thousands of men in uniform in the center of a cloud of hot fallout • A plan to use dry lake beds to rebuild and launch a fighting force in the aftermath of nuclear war Based on formerly classified documents, military records, press accounts, interviews and over 10 years of research, 15 Minutes is one of the most important works on the atom bomb ever written. From Publishers Weekly America™s cold war defensive strategy relied on possessing a striking force so powerful that, even after absorbing a devastating Soviet attack, it could deliver a nation-killing blow. This deterrence matured under the aegis of Gen. Curtis LeMay (1906–1990), the brilliant WWII bomber commander. Military historian Keeney (Gun Camera Pacific) reports that when LeMay took over the Strategic Air Command in 1948, he found several understaffed B-29 groups left over from WWII, a few dozen primitive atomic bombs, and no coherent strategy. With access to newly declassified documents, Keeney delivers a jolting year-by-year history of SAC™s transformation into a massive worldwide force primed to launch bombers within 15 minutes of the order. He also reveals alarming numbers of lost nuclear bombs, disastrous atmospheric tests, and nuclear war near-misses. Bitterly opposed to SAC™s diversion to conventional bombing in Vietnam, LeMay retired in 1965, and Keeney™s detailed, often squirm-inducing account ends in an anticlimax in 1968 with SAC dwindling to a minor adjunct to America™s swelling ballistic missile arsenal. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. From Booklist In the 1950s, before land- and submarine-based missiles formed the backbone of American nuclear deterrence, the U.S. relied primarily upon the Strategic Air Command (SAC). When an alert was issued, it was assumed that the crews of our long-range bombers had only 15 minutes to scramble to the runways and takeoff to guarantee the credibility of a retaliatory strike against the Soviet Union. Keeney, a military historian and co-founder of cable television’s Military Channel, has utilized great amounts of recently declassified documents to tell a fascinating, often chilling story of the policies, technologies, and men responsible for maintaining our nuclear defense posture in that period. At the center of the narrative is General Curtis LeMay, a brilliant, cigar-chomping innovator who was haunted by the specter of Pearl Harbor and determined that we wouldn’t be caught unprepared again. Keeney avoids excessive technical jargon and recounts in straightforward fashion the successes and sometimes dangerous and devasting failures and miscalculations of men operating on the razor’s edge while coping with the terror of unprecedented consequences for misjudgments. --Jay Freeman Review "...brilliantly written, and engrossing." --Portland Book Review About the Author L. DOUGLAS KEENEY is a military historian and researcher. He is the cofounder of The Military Channel on which he hosted a series called On Target. He has since appeared on The Discovery Channel, CBS,


Product Code: 9780312611569
ISBN: 0312611560
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 2011-02-01
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Languages: english
Edition: 1st Printing
Dimension: 6.18 x 1.42 x 9.29 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds