How Radiohead Inspired Eric Schlosser to Write 'Command and Control'

The 'In Rainbows' B-side '4 Minute Warning' highlights the horrors of nuclear war

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In his new book, Command and Control, longtime Rolling Stone contributor Eric Schlosser reveals how a series of near-misses and bureaucratic blunders have repeatedly brought America to the brink of nuclear disaster. "The point is to share information about weapons that the government has been hiding from the public for years," the author tells Rolling Stone.

Read our Recent Q&A with Command and Control Author Eric Schlosser

Like many writers, Schlosser relies on music for his creative spark. Radiohead's 2007 track "4 Minute Warning" was particularly important for the Fast Food Nation author during the half decade he spent researching Command and Control.

"During the Cold War, the British government said that if the Soviet Union launched a missile attack, citizens would have four minutes to take cover before the warheads landed," he says. "The lyrics – 'I don't want to hear it, I don't want to know, I just want to run and hide' – express the sense of denial that cloaks the whole subject of nuclear agression."

See Where Radiohead Falls on Our List of the 100 Greatest Artists

Schlosser went a step further in the video above by connecting with filmaker Kevin Ford, who combed through approximately 45 hours of footage – most of it declassified, some of it never before seen.  Ford, a veteran editor and cinematographer, wanted a visual take on the central themes of Command and Control, mainly that "we're capable of great beauty as well as destruction," says Schlosser.  The result is a four minute and 14 second vision of the madness and incredible dangers that nuclear weapons still pose to the world.

Only one question remained – would the band sign off on the use of their music? "We never expected that Radiohead would let us use the song," says Schlosser. "And then they did!"