On Nuclear Deterrence: The Correspondence of Sir Michael Quinlan

Tanya Ogilvie-White

    Research output: Book/ReportBook


    Michael Quinlan’s grasp of defence policy – particularly that relating to Britain’s deterrence posture – was second to none. His career in the British civil service spanned three decades, during which time he advised various governments, including those of James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher. He was closely involved in the decision to procure Trident from the United States and, within NATO, in shaping the policies that led to the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles. The letters gathered in this book reveal the industry and thorough consideration that Quinlan gave to his role in government. They also shed light upon complex matters of ethics and morality, which Quinlan took pains to reconcile with his work in Whitehall. What emerges is a portrait of a dedicated and gifted civil servant, who, partly due to his deep Catholic faith and horror of what he referred to as ‘atheistic totalitarianism’, regarded nuclear deterrence as a strategic necessity. But the correspondence also shows how, in his last years, Quinlan began to reassess the costs and benefits of nuclear weapons and became more interested in disarmament debates. Shifting power dynamics and uncertainties over the nuclear future mean that the insights of Michael Quinlan’s career continue to be relevant today
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
    ISBN (Print)978-0-415-69650-0
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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