By P. D. Smith
It was once the weapon to finish all guns: the doomsday gadget. a major nuclear bomb so robust that it could possibly envelop the full planet in a cloud of radioactive dirt, and convey approximately rapid extinction. this is often the untold tale of the chilly Wars so much insane plan, the lads at the back of it and the way it approximately occurred. it's also the background of humanitys nightmare imaginative and prescient of a superweapon, exhibiting how pop culture, from the tales of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne to movies corresponding to Planet of the Apes, Mad Max and Dr Strangelove itself have either formed and mirrored our darkest desires.
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Extra info for Doomsday Men: The Real Dr Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon
But at the time it was no laughing matter. The Scottish travel writer Wil liam Lithgow, a contemporary of Galileo’s, described what it was like to be racked by the Inquisition: As the levers bent forward, the main force of my knees against the two planks burst asunder the sinews of my hams, and the lids of my knees were crushed. My eyes began to startle, my mouth to foam and froth, and my teeth to chatter like the doubling of a drummer’s sticks. My lips were shiv ering, my groans were vehement, and blood sprang from my arms, broken sinews, hands, and knees.
In Titus Andronicus, two men kill another man, rape his bride, cut out her tongue, and amputate her hands. Her father kills the rapists, cooks them in a pie, and feeds them to 20 THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE their mother, whom he then kills before killing his own daughter for having gotten raped in the first place; then he is killed, and his killer is killed. Entertainment written for children was no less grisly. In 1815 Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published a compendium of old folktales that had gradually been adapted for children.
For now, prehistoric remains convey the distinct impression that The Past is a place where a person had a high chance of coming to bodily harm. HOMERIC GREECE Our understanding of prehistoric violence depends on the happenstance of which bodies were accidentally embalmed or fossilized, and so it must be rad ically incomplete. But once written language began to spread, ancient people left us with better information about how they conducted their affairs. Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are considered the first great works of Western literature, and occupy the top slots in many guides to cultural literacy.