Paul Shambroom, NUCLEAR WEAPONS SERIES

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Face to Face with the Bomb: Nuclear Reality after the Cold War,
hardcover 144 pages, 83 color photographs by Paul Shambroom with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes.
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, April, 2003 (out of print).


STATEMENT

Nuclear weapons are still one of the dominant issues of our time, despite the ending of the Cold War. As we assess the past and contemplate the future, we have very little concrete visual imagery of the huge nuclear arsenal that has so strongly influenced our lives. With unprecedented cooperation from U.S. military authorities, I have photographed warheads, submarines, bombers, missiles and associated facilities throughout the United States. Since 1992 I've made 35 visits to photograph more than two dozen weapons and command sites (plus hundreds of individual ICBM silos) in 16 states.

My goal is neither to directly criticize nor glorify. My objective is to reveal the tangible reality of the huge nuclear arsenal, something that exists for most of us only as a powerful concept in our collective consciousness. Psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton writes in his 1986 essay "Examining the Real: Beyond the Nuclear `End'":

"Given the temptation of despair, our need can be simply stated: We must confront the image that haunts us, making use of whatever models we can locate. Only then can we achieve those changes in consciousness that must accompany (if not precede) changes in public policy on behalf of a human future. We must look into the abyss in order to be able to see beyond it [emphasis mine]."

1995 marked the 50 year anniversary of the first atomic explosion ("Trinity"), and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. The ending of the Cold War raised great hopes that justification for nuclear weapons would tumble along with the Berlin Wall. To date, such hopes have been unfounded. The US and Russia are developing new weapons and plan to deploy thousands of warheads well into the next century. The burgeoning arms races among hostile nationalistic regimes compound the nuclear threat at the very moment when mankind could have been preparing to welcome a nuclear-free new millennium.I hope my photographs will connect viewers to the continuing legacy of these events, and help them to confront and define their own attitudes about the nuclear present and future.