ADDRESSES: Office—c/o Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071.
CAREER: Journalist and author. Washington Post, Washington, DC, reporter and editor, beginning c. 1983.
Hit to Kill: The New Battle over Shielding America from Missile Attacks, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2001.
SIDELIGHTS: Washington Post military affairs reporter Bradley Graham is the author of Hit to Kill: The New Battle over Shielding America from Missile Attacks. While focusing on the Clinton administration, Hit to Kill begins its story during World War II, as Germany's V-2 deployed over Great Britain. Following the war, missle defense became a chief concern of governments around the world, and by the 1960s President Lyndon B. Johnson approved of the development of a limited missile-defense system. While the effectiveness of such a system remained hotly debated, funding continued throughout the 1970s and into the Reagan and Bush presidencies, the most notable outcome being Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars" program.
In focusing on the Clinton administration, Graham reveals the broader complexities and pitfalls of creating an anti-missile system. Although initially reluctant to continue financing the system, Clinton was persuaded to do so by a Republican-controlled Congress as well as by North Korea's successfully launch of a sophisticated long-range missile. By the late 1990s potential threats from North Korea, as well as from Iran, became clouded by intelligence issues. According to Graham, U.S. intelligence sources could not be certain about the nuclear capabilities of smaller nations like North Korea; meanwhile, the post-cold war U.S. military was more concerned about terrorist activity than missile attacks. Financial costs were prohibitive, while political costs also took their toll, as the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia prohibited the development of such systems. After a few inconclusive tests, Clinton abandoned missile defense work; it would resume after September 11, 2001, during the Bush administration.
Praising Hit to Kill in Publishers Weekly, a contributor notes that "Graham weaves all these threads into a compelling narrative of America's quest for invulnerability, a quest we now know all too well to be indeed an elusive dream." In the National Review, Richard Lowry commended the wealth of information Graham brings to bear on his subject as "impressive and informative." Noting that Graham is "by no means a Clinton critic," Lowry added that Hit to Kill serves as a "devastating portrait of Clinton administration passive-aggression, evasion, and bad faith."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of Hit to Kill: The New Battle over Shielding America from Missile Attacks, p. 527.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2001, review of Hit to Kill, p. 1466.
Library Journal, January, 2002, Daniel K. Blewett, review of Hit to Kill, p. 128.
Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2001, Peter Pae, review of Hit to Kill, p. R8.
Mother Jones, November, 2001, Ken Silverstein, review of Hit to Kill, p. 77.
Nation, January 28, 2002, Walter H. Uhler, review of Hit to Kill, p. 25.
National Review, December 31, 2001, Richard Lowry, review of Hit to Kill, p. 40.
New York Times Book Review, November 11, 2001, Jeff Stein, review of Hit to Kill, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2001, review of Hit to Kill, p. 52.
Washington Monthly, December 2001, Douglas McGray, review of Hit to Kill, p. 55.
Washington Post, January 20, 2002, review of Hit to Kill, p. T04.
UCSB Interdisciplinary Humanities Center Web site, http://ihc.ucsb.edu/ (April 17, 2002).