In To Kill Nations, Edward Kaplan explores the rise of one of the most commonly recognized features of the Cold War—mutually assured destruction (MAD)—in terms of the changes in air power strategy and national policy that ultimately transformed perceptions of nuclear weapons in the United States. By focusing on the background of this transition through the lens of nuclear airpower strategy in particular, Kaplan seeks to address a historiographical problem presented by the bodies of scholarship on air power and nuclear strategy. The shortcomings of these works, Kaplan argues, is that neither group sufficiently considers the historical implications of the other, thus ignoring or missing an important element of the Cold War narrative that combined air power and nuclear strategy into a key trend of U.S. Cold War policy: “air-atomic strategy,” as he terms it. This strategy, he maintains, entailed the fusion of an extremely powerful and transformative new weapon...

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