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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Charles Leavitt, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Charles Leavitt was a defense contractor with TRW in the 1980s. In the interview he describes the nature of defense contract work in relation to the scientific research being done on nuclear weapons. He explains that contractors come in at an early stage in the process with the aim of better guiding the research toward the device being developed, and making the system more efficient. He explains a number of related details about the process including the uncertainty over whether a given company will retain a contract in future stages of a project.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age

Interview with Charles Leavitt, 1987

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



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Raw video

Media Type


Strategic Defense Initiative
Nuclear weapons
Defense contracts
United States
Weinberger, Caspar W.
Reagan, Ronald
TRW Defense and Space Systems Group
Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, CA
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Leavitt, Charles (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Charles Leavitt, 1987,” 12/16/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Charles Leavitt, 1987.” 12/16/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Charles Leavitt, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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