C.P. Snow: Worse than Genghiz Khan. Has there ever been a weapon that someone did not want to let off?
From The New Men (1954)
In was his own uniquely flat expression of delight: but his face was rosy, he did not look like a man of seventy-three. He was reveling in his victory, the hot room, the mildly drunken night.
“If this country gets the super bomb,” he said cheerfully, “no one will remember me.”
He swung his legs under his chair.
“It’s funny about the bomb,” he said. If we manage to get it, what do we do with it then?”
This was not the first time that I heard the question: once or twice recently people at Barford had raised it. It was too far away for the scientists to speculate much, even the controversialists like Mounteney, but several of them agreed that we should simply notify the enemy that we possessed the bomb, and give some evidence: that would be enough to end the war. I repeated this view to Bevill.
“I wonder,” he said.
“I wonder,” he repeated. “Has there ever been a weapon that someone did not want to let off?”
I said, though the issue seemed remote, that this was different in kind. We had both seen the current estimate, that one fission bomb would kill three hundred thousand people at a go.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said Bevell. “Think of what we’re trying to do with bombing. We’re trying to kill men, women and children. It’s worse than anything Genghiz Khan did.”