AMERICAN SCIENTIST Oct. 2003

Book Reviews

 

Perish the thought that the United States would ever have to use its nuclear arsenal. And indeed most of us do just that-remove all thoughts of the ghastly possibility from our minds. But grappling with the reality of all the nuclear bombs out there is just what photographer Paul Shambroom wants us to do. His Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality after the Cold War (Johns Hopkins University Press, $34.95) presents 83 of the photos he took while visiting various nuclear-weapons installations around the country. This proved no small feat, given the bureaucratic hurdles he needed to overcome in obtaining permission. Some of his images evoke awe, showing that he has a good sense of the magni­tude of the enterprise lie is trying to document. Others are jus~ plain funny, demonstrating that he also has a good sense of humor. For example, he not only presents a moody photograph of the entrance to the NORAD's under­ground Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado, he also provldes a shot from the chapel there-the ³Mountain Prayer Room² - featuring a placard that reads, "TAKE TIME TO PRAY.² His notes are illuminating. Who knew, for example, that the short-lived Safeguard antiballistic missile system (part of which is shown. below) cost one-fourth as much as the entire Apollo program? A casual reader; however; might miss these nuggets, which are buried at the back of the book.-D.A.S.