Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Relevant from an standpoint of examining failure in complex systems.
My background in nuclear weapons and aviation safety got me interested in this title. I've always sought out studies of industrial, aviation, and weapons accidents to better understand the mishap chain. I expected strong storytelling covering the devastating explosion of a Titan II ICBM in its silo back in 1980, but I really didn't get that.
What I did get was about a 150 page story buried in a 632 page book. The story began strong enough, but ever-more-frequent segues back to previous incidents, weapons history, and various safety developments made it frustrating and difficult to follow the story of this incident.
In reality, this book is about human folly and failure prediction in complex sytems. In that vein, Schlosser does a fine job. His treatment of accident prediction, human factors, and effective and ineffective approaches to systems failure have a far broader relevance than just nuclear weapons handling. This work has applications from spacecraft to aircraft and industrial production as he reveals just how illusory safety really is.
If you have an interest in the topic or work in an industry with the potential to suffer catastrophic failure, you'll find something useful here. If you are in it for a good story, you'll quickly discover that you are reading a dissertation with an expanded case study sprinkled throughout.