Toward a Livable World
Leo Szilard conceived of the possibility of nuclear fission sustained by a chain reaction years before it was achieved in the laboratory. He was also one of the initiators of the atomic bomb project in the United States. Yet he dedicated his final years to the causes of understanding and sustaining life. The eminent physicist became a biologist and a vital force calling, for the control of nuclear and other weapons.This book documents Szilard's energetic attempts to influence public policy on arms control and disarmament issues, both through open political processes and statements and through behindthe-scenes contacts with Washington power sources and a remarkable exercise in personal diplomacy with Nikita Khrushchev.Many of the issues Szilard deals with in this valuable record of the years 1947-1963 are still crucial today. His opposition to antiballistic missile systems, his proposal for a Washington-Moscow "hot line," his work on the Pugwash conferences that brought together scientists from the East and the West, his pivotal role in the creation of the Council for a Livable World, his advocacy of a nuclear policy of no-first-use and restricted retaliation, and his support of "minimum deterrence" in place of an overwhelming counterforce capability - all these matters are as important in the 1980s as they were in the 1950s and 1960s.Helen S. Hawkins and G. Allen Greb are affiliated with the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California, San Diego. The late Gertrud Weiss Szilard also served as coeditor of the first two volumes of her husband's work: The Collected Works of Leo Szilard: Scientific Papers and Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts. Barton J. Bernstein is professor in the Department of History, Stanford University.