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REVIEW: The Prevention of Nuclear War

anon — June 1984

Thomas L. Perry Jr., Editor. 335 pages, available from the B.C. Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Box 35426, Station E, Vancouver V6M 3H5.

Reviewed by Helen Ready

This soft-cover collection of articles contains the proceedings of a symposium held at the University of British Columbia on March 5 and 6, 1983.

Beginning with a foreword by Dr. David Suzuki and proceeding through an impressive series of presentations by knowledgeable and distinguished speakers, the book contains the essential elements to enable its readers to become ‘nuclear-literate.’

The relevance of the topic to the health professions is firmly established by the description by Dr. Thomas Perry, U.B.C. professor of pharmacology, pediatrician and neurochemist, of the projected effect of a nuclear attack on Vancouver and Calgary, and the effect on Canada and on the world of an all-out nuclear war. He makes the futility of any preplanning by the medical system for such events so perfectly clear that the only realistic action remaining is that of working to prevent such catastrophic events.

Dean Michael Pentz of the Faculty of Science, The Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K. provides a chilling overview of the “State of the art” of nuclear weaponry, describes how the danger of war by escalation, accident or mutual misperception is ever-increasing and the logical futility of the concept of deterrence.

In “A Military Man Looks at the Nuclear Freeze,” Admiral Eugene Carroll, US Navy (Ret.), a man who has spent 37 years in support of the US National Defence Program, provides such a cogent argument why nuclear weapons serve no useful or rational military or political purpose- that this reviewer considers his article to be the keystone of the book.

As well as the numerous articles from noted speakers there are two articles devoted entirely to the cruise, Canada’s role in its testing, and the resultant weakening of Canada’s reputation and moral authority in the community of nations. These are crucial readings for Canadians.

The book is often scholarly, inescapably logical, deeply moving, contains a powerful call to action, and provides suggestions for how this action might be implemented. By addressing and answering so many facets of the nuclear issue through incorporating an excellent core of knowledge, this book serves as an ideal reference.