Nuclear Fallacies: How We Have Been Misguided Since Hiroshima


152 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-0586-5




Reviewed by Raymond A. Jones

Raymond A. Jones is a history professor at Carleton University in


Robert Malcolmson’s extended essay of a little over 100 pages (excluding a bibliographic guide and collected footnotes) sets out to examine “the objective realities of life in the nuclear age.” Malcolmson’s basic premise is that the total destructive power of nuclear/military technology has transformed — indeed, reversed — the nation states’ traditional technology of power: the use of force to achieve political ends. The possession of nuclear weapons by the world’s two super powers has created a situation in which mutual assured destruction would be the inevitable consequence of a nuclear war. This has given rise to the doctrine of deterrence.

Malcolmson argues that deterrence did not keep the peace in the post-World War II era and that, for the future, national security can only be based on common security. A starting point, he suggests, should be a modified unilateral gesture on the part of the United States.

The pursuit of peace has never been so important and Malcolmson’s essay is a welcome and timely contribution in view of the forthcoming United States-Soviet Union negotiations in Geneva. While his conclusions will identify Malcolmson in some people’s views as yet another crank, the soundly developed historical analysis embedded in the body of the essay, if read in conjunction with Martin J. Sherwin’s A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (New York: Knopf, 1975), will give all but the most committed Cold War hawks pause to think.


Malcolmson, Robert W., “Nuclear Fallacies: How We Have Been Misguided Since Hiroshima,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 21, 2024,