Khan’s story is a three-decade-long cloak-and-dagger saga, one that jumps from Washington, Amsterdam and Johannesburg to Islamabad, Tehran and Timbuktu and drags in corrupt Pakstani generals, unscrupulous European businessmen and dissembling American diplomats. It’s no surprise that there has been a cascade of books on Khan in recent years. But the three newest — “The Nuclear Jihadist” by Douglas Frantz (a former L.A. Times managing editor) and Catherine Collins, “Deception” by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark and “America and the Islamic Bomb” by David Armstrong and Joseph Trento — drive home the point that Khan is not the real story here. More important is how and why he was able to flout the nuclear nonproliferation regime for so many years, “ushering in,” as Frantz and Collins put it, “the second nuclear age.” Jonathan Schell, in his new book “The Seventh Decade,” calls this the era of “nuclear anarchy.”
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