An important story of important global leaders who aim to get rid of what is arguably the greatest danger to world survival in the 21st century:
Philip Taubman’s fascinating, haunting book, “The Partnership,” is about the drive to abolish nuclear weapons — and, implicitly, about why it will probably fail. Taubman, a former reporter and editor for The New York Times, tells the stories of five American national security mandarins who, in the twilight of their illustrious careers, stunned their peers by campaigning to scrap all nuclear arms. They are not exactly pacifist hippies: Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, Republican secretaries of state; William J. Perry, a Democratic secretary of defense; Sam Nunn, a Democrat who had been chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Sidney D. Drell, an influential Stanford physicist. Their continuing activism, Taubman writes, “has induced sitting presidents and foreign ministers to embrace ideas not long ago ridiculed as radical and reckless,” and has “powerfully influenced Obama,” who advocates a world without nuclear weapons.
These five men had done much to foster a nuclearized world, and had prospered for their contributions to its infernal machinery. Much of “The Partnership” consists of eerie tales of the atomic cold war, charting the upward progress of these grandees. When they broke ranks, Taubman writes, “it was roughly equivalent to John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan and Jay Gould calling for the demise of capitalism.”