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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Philip Morrison, 1986 [2]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Philip Morrison is a physicist who joined the Manhattan Project in 1942, and went on to advocate nuclear nonproliferation. Asked why he left Los Alamos after returning from Japan after the war, he responds: “One nuclear war was enough.” He recalls that the 1949 Soviet test confirmed the view of many scientists that in the absence of an international agreement an arms race will ensue. He charges that espionage had little to do with the Soviet success, and that it had real meaning only in the political sphere, allowing for “contrived justification[s]” for moving ahead with advances in nuclear weaponry – although he believes the hydrogen bomb was under development before the exposure of the first spy cases.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Weapon of Choice, The
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Interview with Philip Morrison, 1986 [2]

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

The United States and the Soviet Union, former allies, become adversaries in a “Cold War,” and nuclear weapons become the weapon of choice for both sides.

From 1947 to 1953 the threat to use nuclear weapons became the principal currency of conflict. During the Korean War, Texas Congressman J. Frank Wilson said, “We are dealing with mad dogs ... we must treat them accordingly. I urge the atomic bomb be used if it can be used efficiently.” Against this background, President Harry Truman made crucial decisions that affected the history of the Nuclear Age. The United states deployed the B-36, a huge intercontinental bomber. It started mass production of atomic bombs. In 1952, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb, a quantum leap in destructive force. Less than a year later, the Soviet Union exploded its own hydrogen bomb.



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Raw video

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World War II
McCarthy, Joseph, 1908-1957
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Korean War, 1950-1953
Hydrogen bomb
Soviet Union
Nuclear weapons
Nuclear energy
United States
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Morrison, Philip (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Philip Morrison, 1986 [2],” 02/26/1986, GBH Archives, accessed June 17, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Philip Morrison, 1986 [2].” 02/26/1986. GBH Archives. Web. June 17, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Philip Morrison, 1986 [2]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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