Book Release: Nuclear Choices for the Twenty-First Century

March 22, 2021
Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress

Cover with nuclear reactors and nuclear symbol picturedI co-teach a course on science for Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies and have found that there is a lack of books that are the right balance for explaining the intricacies of the many nuclear technology choices that we face today. I’ve discovered that books are either too easy, insufficiently detailed, or too advanced. So, I was thrilled when Prof. Wolfson of Middlebury College, a renowned science author, asked me to collaborate on an update to his insightful 1993 book Nuclear Choices. Our aim was to write a non-intimidating book for the interested layperson.

The book we wrote covers a broad range of subjects, including a comprehensive review of radioactivity, radiation, nuclear fission, nuclear reactors, and fusion energy, nuclear fuel cycle as well as the management of nuclear waste. After laying out the technology and many issues related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy in the first section of the book, the second section focuses on using these technologies as weapons. We begin by discussing nuclear weapons’ history, how they operate, which countries manufacture them, how they are delivered, and how many there are. The last section of the book focuses on nuclear terrorism, nuclear arms control and ballistic missile defense and a world without nuclear weapons. Interspersed throughout the book there are boxes focusing on particular technologies, highlighting the cutting-edge open source research conducted by my colleagues at CNS, or discussing the heroism of Vasily Alexandrovich Arkhipov without whom we would likely not be alive (special bonus a lovely picture of Vasily and his wife Olga Arkhipova!). My favourite box in the book is labelled “Too much testosterone?” highlighting the important work of Dr. Carol Cohn exposing the jargon used in discourse on nuclear weapons that tend to hide the moral issues of the weapons themselves.

Nuclear Choices for the Twenty-First Century is available for purchase.


We thank many for the incredible work we have benefited from, including the rock-solid research by the Federation of Atomic Scientists Nuclear Notebook, Dr. Alex Wellerstein, and my colleagues at CNS. We are also thankful for the generous grants from the Sloan Foundation and the One Middlebury Fund and MIT Press. We believe this is the first collaborative book between Middlebury College and Middlebury Institute of International Studies and hope there will be many more.


“This book tells you everything you wanted to know about nuclear issues but may have been too overwhelmed to ask.”
-Patricia Lewis

“A comprehensive introduction to nuclear issues written in a simple and engaging style but containing such a wealth of information that experts too can learn interesting things. Each side in the debate over nuclear power will find both ammunition and a better understanding of the other side.”
-Frank N. von Hippel
Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus
Program on Science and Global Security
Princeton University

“This book should become a valued reference for specialist and general readers alike, and I look forward to having a copy on my shelf.”
-Cameron Reed

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