An Untaken Road

Strategy, Technology, and the Hidden History of America's Mobile ICBMs
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Published:January 15, 2016
By Steven A. Pomeroy (Author)

Steven A. Pomeroy has authored the first history of the American mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a technology the United States spent four decades and billions of dollars creating but never deployed. An Untaken Road showcases how the evolution of a technology that ultimately never existed and the politics that surrounded it end up significantly shaping American nuclear strategy and forces for decades.

Utilizing recently declassified documents, years of experience, and an unrivaled passion for the history of military technologies, Pomeroy has created a new framework on the nature of strategic weapons technology innovation. This thorough study of a “road not taken” is a must read for those seeking to understand the challenges and constraints on U.S. military weapon programs, especially when inter-organization competition, domestic politics, strategic needs, and new technologies collide.

List Price: $44.95
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Product Details
  • Subject: Military History
  • Hardback : 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 7 b/w photos; 18 b/w illustrations
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (January 15, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 1612519733
  • ISBN-13: 9781612519739
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 19.56 oz
  • "Technology historian Steven Pomeroy (associate professor of military and strategic studies at the Air Force Academy) presents An Untaken Road: Strategy, Technology, and the Hidden History of America's Mobile ICBMs, a history of not only the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, but also key strategic decisions of the Cold War involving the strengths and weaknesses of nuclear power as a deterrent weapon of America's military forces. A handful of black-and-white illustrations, notes, a bibliography, and an index enhance this scholarly and measured chronicle of military technology and history. Drawing upon recently declassified documents, An Untaken Road should be required reading for anyone pursuing or engaged in a defense department career, and is especially recommended for college library military history collections."—Midwest Book Review
  • “Steve Pomeroy’s account of the Air Force’s and the country’s debate over mobile intercontinental missiles brings alive key strategic decisions during the Cold War concerning the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the U.S. nuclear deterrent forces. His treatment of how technological innovation becomes restricted and channeled by political, economic, and inter-service interests is a story with application to many of today’s debates on future military forces.”—Col. Thomas A. Keaney, USAF (Ret.), author of Revolution in Warfare: Air Power in the Persian Gulf, associate director, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies
  • An Untaken Road delivers an intelligent and timely analysis of the major strategic debates of the Cold War. In an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets, Steven Pomeroy's compelling new study should be required reading for defense experts and decision-makers grappling with the political and military implications of modernization in the ‘second nuclear age.’”—Michigan War Studies Journal
  • “In 2016, as Air Force planners examine aging, silo-based Minuteman IIIs and contemplate a Ground Based Strategic Defense system to replace them, a careful reading of An Untaken Road might prove beneficial. Knowing what failed to happen in the past, and why, might shed as much light on the way ahead as knowing what did happen and why. Regardless of whether current planners take this advice, Pomeroy’s book belongs on the shelves of scholars whose specializations range from technology or military strategy to domestic politics or international affairs.”—Air Power History
  • “How and why the U.S. Air Force struggled to bring mobility to its land-based ICBM force is a fascinating saga that played out against the backdrop of strategy, engineering, management, bureaucratic rivalries, domestic politics, and high-level diplomacy. Steven Pomeroy engages this complex story of an ‘untaken road’ through a series of abortive Air Force efforts to develop and deploy its Minuteman and MX ballistic missiles in ways to ensure the survivability of those weapons in the event of the unthinkable—nuclear war. Among the proposals were a ‘fleet’ of a hundred trains roaming a quarter million miles of track, submersibles cruising the shallows of the Great Lakes and Gulf of Mexico, and giant high-endurance missile-carrying aircraft circling the skies of North America. Extensively documented using an impressive range of recently declassified sources, Pomeroy’s book offers a thought-provoking case study that illuminates the process of technological change within a sophisticated historical and analytical context.”—William Trimble, author of Admiral William A. Moffett: Architect of Naval Aviation and Hero of the Air: Glenn Curtiss and the Birth of Naval Aviation
  • “Students of history can learn from rejected policies as well as from accepted ones. Steven Pomeroy’s examination of the history of advocacy for land-based mobile ICBMs demonstrates this. Far from a contra-factual approach, the author bases his book on a significant body of evident, much of which has only recently been declassified.” — The Journal of Military History
  • “Pomeroy has produced a readable book that serves as a useful introduction to the history of mobile ICBM technology in the United States.” —QUEST: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly

Steven A. Pomeroy is a historian of technology and, as an associate professor of military and strategic studies at the Air Force Academy, served as the Senior Military Faculty for Strategy and Technology. A twenty-five year Air Force veteran and former nuclear launch officer, he received his PhD from Auburn University. He researches, writes, and teaches on technological change and history, processes of innovation, strategy, and emerging technologies.

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An Untaken Road
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