Nuclear weapons

The men behind the bomb

The World Today Published 31 March 2018 Updated 25 January 2019 1 minute READ

Inside the Centre: The Life of J Robert Oppenheimer

Ray Monk, Jonathan Cape, £30.00

The brilliant mind and conflicted conscience of the ‘father of the atom bomb’, who later became a victim of McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunt when he tried to prevent a nuclear arms race, has been the subject of several biographies. This one, at more than 800 pages, is the most comprehensive.

Dr Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb

Philip K Dick , Mariner Books, £9.66

Written in 1963 but set in a post-apocalyptic future, this novel is filled with a host of Dick’s most memorable characters including Hoppy Harrington, a deformed mutant with telekinetic powers, and Dr Bluthgeld, the megalomaniac physicist. Epic and alluring, this brilliant novel is a depiction of Dick’s undying hope in humanity.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence and Deviance

Hassan Abbas , Hurst £25

A new book exploring the mysteries of how the nuclear physicist AQ Khan worked in secret, sometimes with the Pakistani authorities and sometimes on his own, during his activities in Iran, North Korea and Libya that blew a hole in international efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

When the Wind Blows

Raymond Briggs, Penguin £8.99

This 1982 graphic novel by British artist Raymond Briggs shows a nuclear attack on Britain by the Soviet Union from the viewpoint of a retired couple, Jim and Hilda Bloggs. Equally humorous and macabre, this poignant depiction of the effects of a nuclear attack was later turned into an animated film.

Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Harvard University Press, £20.95

The historian takes issue with the conventional wisdom that the two US bombs dropped in 1945 forced Japan to surrender. Rather, his research shows that it was Stalin’s belated declaration of war on Japan. The theory is controversial – if there was no need for the A-bombs to prevent huge loss of American lives during the Allied invasion of Japan, what justification did Harry S Truman have?


Mick Jackson, BBC, £14.99

Not a novel, but a 1984 BBC television series made on a shoestring budget, depicting a nuclear winter and its effects on the city of Sheffield in northern England. It contains one of the most terrifying scenes in television history. You have been warned.