World History 1952

About the history of the world in 1952, King Faruk of Egypt abdicates, the U.S. develops the first hydrogen bomb.



July Amid charges of corruption, King Faruk, 32, of Egypt, abdicated in the face of an army revolt led by Lt. Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser. The last of the Mohammed Ali dynasty, Faruk escaped from Cairo unharmed but was forced to leave behind several treasured mementos, including a stack of U.S. comic books, six dozen binoculars, 1,000 neckties, and several action photos of elephants engaging in sex.

Oct. 31 The U.S. spawned a new generation of atomic weapons as it detonated the first hydrogen bomb at the circular atoll of Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The decision to develop the H-bomb was another braintwister for Harry Truman. The arguments put before the President for and against a crash program to add the megaton monster to the U.S. arsenal broke down this way:

Pro: 1. The U.S.S.R. had just developed the A-bomb. To regain nuclear superiority, the U.S. had to build a bigger bomb. Besides, if the U.S. ignored the H-bomb, who could be certain that the U.S.S.R. would not go ahead and develop one of its own?

2. With Mao's takeover in China, Communist aggression in Korea, and the trials of alleged Soviet spies in the U.S. and England, the American people would support such a program.

Con: 1. Scientists estimated the odds of successfully splitting and controlling the hydrogen atom at only 50-50.

2. To divert funds to a crash project would mean neglect of other defense projects, like beefing up the nuclear stockpile and developing lesser, more versatile atomic weapons.

3. If the U.S. did not develop the bomb, other countries with less scientific talent might defer to U.S. expertise and conclude that its construction was technically impossible.

4. Once developed, how could you stop its proliferation?

To help him decide, President Truman created a task force headed by Secretary of State Dean Acheson to study the problem. It recommended development. So did the Pentagon. Arguing against it were a majority of the members of the Atomic Energy Commission as well as the AEC's advisory committee. But in the end, Truman went with the hawks and issued executive order NSC-68 to begin construction of the weapon which would make the Hiroshima bomb look like a string of ladyfingers.

Nov. 25 Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. The play revolves around a murder committed by one of five guests in a newly opened ski lodge and assaults the audience, in classic Christie fashion, with a fusillade of false clues. Although the play was not well received in the U.S., The Mousetrap has clung to the West End boards for over 25 consecutive years--the world's longest-running play of all time--and today is playing at St. Martin's Theatre, London.

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