How close we came to extinction, and it is forgotten now.” So begins Nobel Prize winner Bernard Lown's story of his fight against the nuclear symptom of what he calls “the disease of militarism.” It is still an active and highly contagious disease, but as this extraordinary memoir vividly demonstrates, it can be stopped by concerned citizens working together.
In 1981, brimming with anxiety about the escalating nuclear confrontation with the Russians, Lown founded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) with Soviet cardiologist Evgeni Chazov. They recruited more than 150,000 doctors worldwide to join their movement, held numerous international conferences, met with world political leaders, and appeared on specially produced television programs broadcast throughout the USSR and the United States. In 1985, despite active opposition from the U.S. government and NATO, Lown and Chazov accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of IPPNW.
This compelling story is told with a vibrancy of language that illuminates dramatic scenes such as the historic IPPNW symposium (chaired by astrophysicist Carl Sagan) that brought together an American admiral, a Russian general, and a British field marshal at the height of the cold war; Lown, during a routine medical exam, persuading King Hussein of Jordan to join the antinuclear cause; the heart attack of a Russian journalist at an IPPNW press conference; and Lown's frank face-to-face conversations with Mikhail Gorbachev.
Nuclear weapons are still very much with us, and we forget this at our peril. Prescription for Survival probes the past to help us understand what drove, and continues to drive, nuclear proliferation and offers a blueprint showing how we can join together across national boundaries to end it.