Why Make the Rubble Bounce?

Winston Churchill? James Reston? Edward M. Kennedy? Clark M. Clifford? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The massive arsenals of the nuclear nations have been poised like the Sword of Damocles to fall upon the head of mankind for decades. Statesman Winston Churchill reportedly was critical of excessive weaponry and said:

If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.

I haven’t been able to find a citation. Is this quotation accurate?

Quote Investigator: The earliest pertinent citation located by QI appeared in Winston Churchill’s volume about the Second World War titled “Their Finest Hour” published in 1949. London suffered from extensive bombardment, and Churchill suggested that eventually the war planners behind the devastation would recognize the ineffectiveness of further attacks upon the city. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Indeed, at this time we saw no end but the demolition of the whole metropolis. Still, as I pointed out to the House of Commons at the time, the law of diminishing returns operates in the case of the demolition of large cities. Soon many of the bombs would only fall upon houses already ruined and only make the rubble jump. Over large areas there would be nothing more to burn or destroy, and yet human beings might make their homes here and there, and carry on their work with infinite resource and fortitude.

Churchill was discussing conventional weaponry used against London and not nuclear bombs. Also, he used the phase “only make the rubble jump” without the word “bounce”.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Why Make the Rubble Bounce?


  1. 1949, The Second World War: Their Finest Hour by Winston Churchill, Quote Page 372, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified on paper)