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  • gilwilson 3:45 PM on January 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: air force, , , eric schlosser, nuclear accidents, nuclear weapons, ,   

    Audiobook Review: “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety” by Eric Schlosser 


    Audiobook Review: “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety”
    by Eric Schlosser
    read by Scott Brick
    published by Penguin Audio
    Approx 20.5 hours

    Investigative journalist, Eric Schlosser is at it again. This time around he tackles the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. I had previously read Schlosser’s taking on of the fast food industry in his book “Fast Food Nation.” After reading that book, I was totally disgusted by not only the fast food industry, but also America’s handling of the meat industry. For a long time I had a hard time eating fast food and when I went shopping I would steer away from the meat department. I admit, I found it hard to stay away completely and so now and then I’ll eat something Eric Schlosser discussed in that book and will either get a little nauseous or shiver a bit, but at least he did open my eyes on a very lucrative industry that preys on its employees and customers. So what was I in for thist time?

    Seeing as how the subject is nuclear weapons, I thought well this will probably give me some good information and I’ll want to go out and start protesting nuclear war, like a hippie. Well, yes and no. Yes this book goes into depths unimaginable about how the world and America have mishandled nuclear weapons since the the bombs were dropped on Japan. So now I’m thinking of building a bunker, but wondering how deep to go.

    Before I go into too much detail on this book I want to talk about the reader of the audiobook, Scott Brick. I have been a fan of Scott Brick ever since I heard him read the Truman Capote book “In Cold Blood,” and through the audiobook productions of all of the Dune books by Frank Herbert, and the prequels and sequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. In fact it was those mentioned books that got me addicted to audiobooks. Brick has a way with his delivery in any audiobook he reads that sucks the listener in and once absorbed can barely tell whether it is a single voice or multiple voice performance. Brick can deliver emotions and ideals that are implied through the overall book within just a few sentences. Being read by Scott Brick sealed the deal in this audiobook. Eric Schlosser’s in depth investigative journalism attracted me to the book , but Brick made sure I listened now.

    Schlosser has used his gift for writing to create a fact-filled documentary which reads like a thriller novel. The sad thing is that this is a true story. The main story is about the “Damascus Accident,” an accident that occurred in Damascus, Arkansas at a Titan II missile silo. The story begins with the Air Force personnel preparing for routine checks and maintenance on a Titan II missile (carrying a nuclear warhead). One of the crew drops a wrench which strikes the side of the missile causing a severe fuel leak. As the story is being told the reader/listener learns that through a series of mishaps and ignored safety procedures that leads to a major disaster.

    Interspersed between the events that follow the dropped wrench and lead to a major explosion at the missile silo, Schlosser gives a history of the world’s, focusing mainly on the United State’s involvement in creating nuclear weapons. From the first atomic bomb building and testing all the way through nuclear disarmament and leading to this disaster, Eric Schlosser deals out facts that will scare you. The facts are all there, the danger exists, where do we go now?

  • gilwilson 3:21 AM on August 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , eric schlosser, illegal immigrants, marijuana, , , reefer madness   

    Reefer Madness Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser 

    Reefer Madness

    Reefer Madness

    Reefer Madness Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
    by Eric Schlosser
    Read by the author
    Produced by Simon & Schuster Audio 2003

    Okay one more non-fiction book and then I’ll get back to some more fiction.  I picked up this audio book because I read the author’s book on the meat and fast food industry, “Fast Food Nation.”  For a while after reading that book I would not touch fast food mainly because of the gross out factor caused by Eric Schlosser’s expose’ of the unsafe practices in those industries.  Schlosser also exposed the greed and the lack of concern for the consumer’s of those same products and the employees of the companies involved.  The one thing that Schlosser excelled in was in following the money.

    This book is no exception, in fact that’s pretty much the gist of the book, following the money.  “Reefer Madness” is a look at the three pillars of the underground economy of the U.S., estimated to be ten percent of American GDP: marijuana, migrant labor, and pornography.

    In Reefer Madness, the first section of the book Schlosser argues, based on usage, historical context, and consequences, for the decriminalization of marijuana.  This section revolves around  Mark Young of Indiana, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for his relatively minor role in a marijuana deal.  This is one of the examples of marijuana laws being unreal, where in many states marijuana possession can get harsher penalties than committing murder.

    In the Strawberry Fields, he explores the exploitation of illegal immigrants as cheap labor, arguing that there should be better living arrangements and humane treatment of the illegal immigrants America is exploiting in the fields of California. This segment seems like either an epilogue or prologue to this previous book “Fast Food Nation.”  In fast food nation the migrant workers/illegal immigrants are used in meat packing in extremely unsafe conditions and with very little pay.  In this segment of the book those workers are trying to squeak by on very little money doing jobs no one wants to do.  In one conversation the farm owner says every once in a while some college kids come looking for work but the work is so difficult they don’t last half a day.

    One thing I always found curious was; Why don’t the farmers that employ illegals use machinery to do the harvesting and get rid of the problem of illegals sneaking across borders to do back breaking work?  Schlosser explains this, and I’m summing up the explanation here, by saying for farms to do the work with the machinery an initial purchase of said machinery would cost into the millions and right now they only spend thousands paying the migrant workers, also that we Americans like for our fruit and vegetables to not be blemished and the workers can pick with care unlike the machines.

    An Empire of the Obscene details the history of pornography in American culture, starting with the eventual business magnate Reuben Sturman, an enigmatic Ohio man who started out selling discarded comic books from the back of his car goes on to buil and control a formidable pornography empire.  After beating a string of obscenity charges the government finally catches Sturman in the only way possible, tax evasion.  Finally the government can put Sturman behind bars.  But after all the court cases against Sturman bringing down religion based obscenity laws the business of pornography becomes a major busines now backed by many Fortune 500 companies.

    Schlosser unravels an American society that has “become alienated and at odds with itself.” Like “Fast Food Nation”, this is an eye-opening book with Schlosser doing some serious investigative leg  work. Schlosser doesn’t really come out in support of the Porn Industry or the legalization of drugs but does point out the hypocrisy that gives a marijuana user life and a murderer 10 years as sentencing and jailing obscenity while major corporations fund it, while that same America promotes indentured servitude (slavery) for the illegal immigrants.   “..the price of freedom is often what freedom brings.”

    Schlosser closes by arguing that such a widespread black market can only undermine the law and is indicative of the discrepancy between accepted mainstream American culture and its true nature.

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