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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Europe Goes Nuclear
Program Number


Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

France and England rush to acquire their own nuclear weapons, NATO worries about the threat from the East, and Europe becomes the most nuclear-saturated place on Earth.

British and American scientists worked side by side to build the first nuclear bombs. “There was a strong desire on the British side for that collaboration to continue into peacetime. There was no such desire on the part of the United States,” recalls British diplomat Roger Makins, Lord Sherfield. Britain decided to proceed on its own and in 1952 joined the US and the Soviets in what pundits would call “the nuclear club.” General Charles De Gaulle, president of France, wanted to join the club, too, and not rely on the US for nuclear protection. Prestige was also an issue. In 1960, France exploded its first atomic weapon. Since World War II the Soviet Union had had a superiority in conventional forces in Europe. NATO countered by deploying thousands of nuclear weapons. “They were accepted as being perfectly reasonable weapons to use in a tactical battle in continental Europe,” said Sir Richard Powell of the British Defense Ministry.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear,” 12/07/1988, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed October 23, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2271DD0951DE4D7EA0E4BE5D47535289.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear.” 12/07/1988. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. October 23, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2271DD0951DE4D7EA0E4BE5D47535289>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_2271DD0951DE4D7EA0E4BE5D47535289
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