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Super BombOrganizational Conflict and the Development of the Hydrogen Bomb$
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Ken Young and Warner R. Chilling

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501745164

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501745164.001.0001

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The Shock of the “New World”

The Shock of the “New World”

(p.18) Chapter 1 The Shock of the “New World”
Super Bomb

Ken Young

Warner R. Schilling

Cornell University Press

This chapter is an account of the impact on U.S. thinking and policy of the first Soviet atomic bomb test. It ended the U.S. monopoly of atomic weapons—a development that some had foreseen and others had discounted as a possibility. An atomic Russia triggered fears of a “bolt from the blue” assault on U.S. cities. One reaction was to seek to prioritize U.S. air defenses. Another was to confirm the program agreed to that summer to accelerate the production of fissionable material for atomic bombs. The surge of anxiety also brought hitherto obscure speculations about thermonuclear physics into the public domain. It seemed apparent to some that the Soviet nuclear threat should be countered not by a multiplication of atomic bombs but by an American “superbomb.”

Keywords:   Soviet atomic bomb, Soviet nuclear threat, atomic weapons, atomic Russia, U.S. nuclear policy, thermonuclear physics, American superbomb

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