In this new and expanded edition of an already classic work, H. Bruce Franklin brings the epic story of the superweapon and the American imagination into the ominous twenty-first century, demonstrating its continuing importance both to comprehending our current predicament and to finding ways to escape from it.
Sweeping through two centuries of American culture and military history, War Stars comes to a startling new understanding of issues crucial to the survival of civilization and the human species. Vividly written and filled with dazzling insights, this unique book explores the cultural history of superweapons from Robert Fulton's eighteenth-century submarine through the strategic bomber and atomic bomb to Star Wars. H. Bruce Franklin tellingly reveals how and why the American quest for the ultimate defensive weapon--guaranteed to end all war and bring universal triumph to American ideals--has led to the creation of forces increasingly capable of automated global annihilation. Franklin explores over two hundred movies, novels, and stories, from obscure pre-World War I fiction that influenced Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan to such modern classics as Catch-22, Slaughterhouse Five, and Dr. Strangelove. He demonstrates how the American imagination continually shapes ingenious new superweapons while engendering their antitheses in art and action. With its brilliant interweaving of culture, science, technology, and history, War Stars has received high praise from scientists, literary scholars, film critics, activists, and historians alike.