Assured Destruction

Building the Ballistic Missile Culture of the U.S. Air Force

  • Subject: U.S. Air Force | Summer 2024 Sale
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Published:
    March 15, 2020
  • ISBN-10:
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  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    19 oz
Hardcover $41.95
Member Price $33.56 Save 20%
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Assured Destruction: Building the Ballistic Missile Culture of the U.S. Air Force documents the rapid development of nuclear ballistic missiles in the United States and their equally swift demise after the Cuban Missile Crisis, revealing how these drastic changes negatively influenced both the Air Force and the missile community. David W. Bath contends that the struggle to create and control nuclear ballistic missiles threatened both the dominance of the United States during an intensifying Cold War and the strategic airpower mission of the newly created Air Force.

The book details the strenuous efforts required to create and prepare a missile arsenal before the Cuban Missile Crisis, which occurred only five years after the first missile was declared operational. It uses the personal recollections of former missileers and the professional military education theses they wrote to highlight some of the concerns that have faced the missileers who operated and worked on these powerful weapons from 1957 to the present. The highlight of the book, however, is the personal stories of the missileers who served during the missile crisis, revealing the efforts that they went to in order to prepare these unique and untried weapons for what many thought might become the third world war.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

"David W. Bath’s Assured Destruction is the compelling story of the rise of a missile culture in America after the launch of Sputnik in 1957; the interservice rivalry which followed; and the realization after the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1963, that, if used, ICBM’s with atomic warheads would doom Mankind. Assured Destruction is a stunning achievement." —Terry H. Anderson, Professor of History, Texas A&M University, and author of Bush’s Wars
“David Bath has produced a useful contribution to the historiography of the Cold War and the USAF. He describes the development of the ICBM strategic deterrence force and illuminates the establishment of the missile crew force and the struggle to create a professional culture and a viable career path in the aviation-oriented Air Force.” —Jerome V. Martin, Command Historian (retired), U.S. Strategic Command
“David W. Bath illuminates how military culture restrains innovations and limits capabilities. Bath demonstrates how bomber pilots limited the ICBM interloper’s internal effects and suppressed rising 'missile generals.' In this, the new Air Force set a dangerous tendency to limit innovations by focusing on narrow elements of air operations.” —Dr. Steven A. Pomeroy, Defense Analyst and author of An Untaken Road: Strategy, Technology, and the Hidden History of America’s Mobile ICBMs
“A fascinating history of the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile, an extraordinary technological feat for the time, Assured Destruction is skillfully written within a rich context of foreign affairs. David Bath manages to combine convincing detail with a fast-paced narrative that is a pleasure to read.” —Stephen M. Younger, author of Silver State Dreadnought: The Remarkable Story of Battleship Nevada and former Director of Sandia National Laboratories
“Assured Destruction provides a rare and badly needed examination of the awkward place intercontinental ballistic missiles occupy inside the U.S. Air Force. I especially value its gripping account of how the Cuban Missile Crisis put ICBM crews to the test for first time in a moment of great danger.” —Christopher Gainor, author, The Bomb and America’s Missile Age; editor, Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly
“David Bath’s Assured Destruction provides an insightful look into an oft overlooked culture within the United States Air Force and the larger nuclear enterprise. Bath’s combination of historical research and operational expertise combine to provide a fascinating narrative of a group of warriors who kept watch over America during the Cold War, and continue to do so to this day. Deterrence, mission focus, and inclusion in Strategic Air Command are central to the timely narrative told in Assured Destruction.” —Melvin G. Deaile, author of Always at War: Organizational Culture in Strategic Air Command, 1946-62, Director of the School of Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies, Air Command and Staff College
“This book is a must-read for history buffs.” —Claremore Daily Progress
“Mutually Assured Destruction, MAD, was a strategic concept that managed to keep the World from nuclear war. The author has produced a very readable account of this new form of international relations in a well researched and balanced account that places the strategy, technology and international events in relationship – Very Highly Recommended.” —FIRE Reviews
“If one is in any way interested in how the United States, through its Air Force, developed its land-based missile nuclear war fighting capabilities this is a book to read.” —The Journal of America’s Military Past
“This excellent work is insightful and clearly articulated, and it pro­vides a narrative missing from the historiography. Bath's clean, clear writing style synthesizes a myriad of issues in an important work that helps put the Cold War in context. This work belongs on the shelf of any Cold War scholar.” —Journal of Military History
“David W. Bath offers an excellent review of the creation of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles in the United States Air Force from post-World War II to Vietnam…. A pleasant and easy read, and we fully endorse it to other historians who wish to understand the challenges of fielding a new force capability.” —U.S. Military History Review
“This book is a very interesting read…. The author gives detailed and revealing accounts of the individual sacrifices to ensure that an effective capability existed in time.” —Aerospace
"To develop this outstanding volume, Bath relies upon numerous institutional sources, but, as he admits, many sources that might shed light on the day-to-day trappings of life as a missileer are still classified. Likewise, most documents from the era focus on the scientific advancements of the equipment rather than the lives of the men charged with operating it. Nevertheless, Bath conducted twenty-five interviews for this book that add incredible context and realism to the text. This book is an excellent examination of the development of ICBMs in the Air Force, attitudes toward missiles and missileers, and where they fit into the overall American nuclear architecture and strategic culture, rather than the specific organizational culture of ballistic missiles themselves. This book is well written and a must for anyone interested in the development of the United States Air Force, military organizational culture, or the development of nuclear ballistic missiles." —War in History 
Baths's greatest contributions to the ICBM's history are his chapters on the Cuban Missile Crisis and decline of the mission in its wake. Assured Destruction is a welcome addition to the literature on the ICBM weapons systems. It is the first book to incorporate missileers into its history and adds to the growing literature of Air Force policy making and weapons development during the Cold War. Despite being an academic title, Bath's compelling and easy-to-read narrative is accessible to both the general public and professional historians. It is well-suited for the coffee table and classroom alike. -- Air Force Historical Foundation