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The Second Nuclear Age

Colin S. Gray
ISBN: 978-1-55587-331-8
1999/194 pages/LC: 99-35633

"Gray's work offers fascinating insight and information.... The Second Nuclear Age is a good primer for reconsidering U.S. nuclear strategy."—Gregory Paul Domin, American Political Science Review

"Although short in length, [The Second Nuclear Age] packs plenty of punch: Gray is characteristically thought-provoking and engaging even when the reader is in strong disagreement."—Parameters


Colin Gray returns nuclear weapons to the center stage of international politics.

Taking issue with the complacent belief that a happy mixture of deterrence, arms control, and luck will enable humanity to cope adequately with weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Gray argues that the risk posed by WMD is ever more serious. Policy that ignores the present nuclear age, he cautions, is policy that ignores reality.

Gray's iconoclastic analysis, which includes a rigorous examination of the major policy and conceptual issues associated with WMD, criticizes traditional approaches to nonproliferation and challenges both the aspiration to "abolish" or "marginalize" nuclear weapons and the idea that there is a "nuclear taboo" in universal operation. The Second Nuclear Age dares to specify the policy merit in nuclear weapons today.


The late Colin S. Gray was professor of international politics and director of the Center for Security Studies at the University of Hull.


  • Nuclear Problem, Nuclear Condition.
  • The Second Nuclear Age: The Hunt for Political Context.
  • Beyond the Fuel Cycle: Strategy and the Proliferation Puzzle.
  • To Confuse Ourselves: Nuclear Fallacies.
  • Nuclear Strategy.
  • Coping with a Nuclear Future.