87 books like Command and Control

By Eric Schlosser,

Here are 87 books that Command and Control fans have personally recommended if you like Command and Control. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Shirley Streshinsky and Patricia Klaus Author Of An Atomic Love Story: The Extraordinary Women in Robert Oppenheimer's Life

From my list on the race to build the first atomic bomb.

Who are we?

Shirley Streshinsky was 11 years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Many scientists were responsible, but only Robert Oppenheimer was labeled “Father of the Atomic Bomb”. At twenty-nine while living in San Francisco she crowded into an auditorium at U.C. Berkeley to hear him speak. She left knowing she would write about him. Patricia Klaus has been a Modern British historian for years, the story of Robert Oppenheimer and the women he loved opened new worlds for her: the history of science and the discovery of fission in 1938. Her father was a pilot in the 509th Bomb Wing that had dropped the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

Shirley's book list on the race to build the first atomic bomb

Shirley Streshinsky and Patricia Klaus Why did Shirley love this book?

Published nineteen years before American Prometheus, this book also won a Pulitzer Prize.

A self-taught scientific writer, Rhodes is able to weave vivid character portrayals into the narrative of the science behind the bomb, turning a complex story into fascinating reading. Over several lunches with Patricia, Rhodes described Oppenheimer as someone who could antagonize and amuse at the same time.

She found the writer’s psychological  insights especially revealing. This is a book to be read and re-read.

By Richard Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Making of the Atomic Bomb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With a brand new introduction from the author, this is the complete story of how the bomb was developed. It is told in rich, human, political, and scientific detail, from the turn-of-the-century discovery of the vast energy locked inside the atom to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan. Few great discoveries have evolved so swiftly -- or have been so misunderstood. From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity there was a span of hardly more than twenty-five years. What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan…


Book cover of The Target Is Destroyed: What Really Happened To Flight 007 And What America Knew About It

Taylor Downing Author Of 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink

From my list on Cold War mysteries.

Who am I?

Taylor Downing is a historian, writer, and television producer. He has written several best-selling books and has produced more than 200 television documentaries many of which have won awards. Taylor is currently researching and writing a new book on a little-known crisis in World War Two, due for publication in 2022.

Taylor's book list on Cold War mysteries

Taylor Downing Why did Taylor love this book?

A brilliant investigation into one of the great mysteries of the Cold War - why had flight KAL007 drifted 350 miles off course into sensitive Soviet military airspace when it was shot down? Was it a genuine navigational error or could it have been a more sinister spying operation?

By Seymour M. Hersh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Target Is Destroyed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Documents the circumstances surrounding the Soviet attack on, and downing of, a Korean Airlines civilian 747 jet in September, 1983


Book cover of Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster

David DeKok Author Of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire

From my list on environmental catastrophes.

Who am I?

David DeKok became interested in environmental disasters in his native Michigan in 1974, when PBB, a fire-retardant chemical, was accidentally mixed with animal feed, entered the food chain, and then most people in the state, probably including himself. As a journalist in Pennsylvania, he wrote extensively about the Centralia mine fire and the aftermath of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and is the author of four books. He tends to write about small towns and small-town people in crisis.

David's book list on environmental catastrophes

David DeKok Why did David love this book?

The world continues to consider nuclear power, despite the devastation to the nuclear industry caused by the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Nuclear power can play a part in fighting climate change, but we need to be aware of the risks as well as the rewards. Beyond that, it is a well-researched and dramatic story about the trauma that ensues when human communities are beset by environmental disasters.

By Adam Higginbotham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Midnight in Chernobyl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Best Book of the Year
A Time Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Winner

From journalist Adam Higginbotham, the New York Times bestselling “account that reads almost like the script for a movie” (The Wall Street Journal)—a powerful investigation into Chernobyl and how propaganda, secrecy, and myth have obscured the true story of one of the history’s worst nuclear disasters.

Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering one of the…


Book cover of KGB: The Inside Story of its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev

Taylor Downing Author Of 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink

From my list on Cold War mysteries.

Who am I?

Taylor Downing is a historian, writer, and television producer. He has written several best-selling books and has produced more than 200 television documentaries many of which have won awards. Taylor is currently researching and writing a new book on a little-known crisis in World War Two, due for publication in 2022.

Taylor's book list on Cold War mysteries

Taylor Downing Why did Taylor love this book?

A deeply revealing insight into the mysterious world of the Soviet secret service written as a collaboration between a top Cambridge historian and a senior KGB officer who was a double agent working for the British MI6. It tells us not only what the KGB got up to but, equally important, how the senior KGB leaders thought. It opens up the paranoia at the top of the Soviet system.

By Christopher Andrew, Oleg Gordievsky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked KGB as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This history of the world's largest and most powerful intelligence service, the KGB, from its origin after the Russian revolution to the present day, analyzes its operations against subjects as diverse as the EEC, Margaret Thatcher, Solidarity and Libya. This study also provides an insight into Gorbachev's relations with the KGB and examines the disintegration of the Soviet bloc. Christopher Andrew has also written "Secret Service". Gordievsky was a KGB colonel who worked for British intelligence as a penetration agent in the KGB from 1974. He escaped to the West in 1985.


Book cover of A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Kenneth L. Campbell Author Of The History of Britain and Ireland: Prehistory to Today

From my list on British and Irish history with a wide range of topics.

Who am I?

I have a Ph.D. in British history and have taught a variety of courses on the topic for the past 40 years. Since first visiting Scotland on a study tour in 1981, I have been to Britain and Ireland both multiple times and have spent extended periods of time there. From Shakespeare to the Beatles, from the Norman Conquest to the Second World War, from Roman Britain to Brexit, I have found each period of British and Irish history endlessly fascinating and sharing my passion with students and readers has been one of the great joys of my life. 

Kenneth's book list on British and Irish history with a wide range of topics

Kenneth L. Campbell Why did Kenneth love this book?

If you are looking for a suspenseful non-fiction book on British history that reads like a novel and you won’t want to put down, this is the book for you.

I knew the basic outlines of the story of Kim Philby, a double agent inside Britain’s MI6 secret service spying on behalf of the Soviets. It turns out there is so much more to the story, told in a fascinating way by well-regarded author Macintyre in a book that would defy belief if the author had made up the details of Philby’s story for a novel.

This book will lead you to question how well we can ever really know someone, while also teaching you much about Britain’s involvement in the Cold War and the history of the post-war world.

By Ben Macintyre,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked A Spy Among Friends as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kim Philby was the most notorious British defector and Soviet mole in history. Agent, double agent, traitor and enigma, he betrayed every secret of Allied operations to the Russians in the early years of the Cold War.

Philby's two closest friends in the intelligence world, Nicholas Elliott of MI6 and James Jesus Angleton, the CIA intelligence chief, thought they knew Philby better than anyone, and then discovered they had not known him at all. This is a story of intimate duplicity; of loyalty, trust and treachery, class and conscience; of an ideological battle waged by men with cut-glass accents and…


Book cover of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Nicholas Mee Author Of Gravity: From Falling Apples to Supermassive Black Holes

From my list on when contemplating the risks of nuclear technology.

Who am I?

I have always had a passion to engage with the deepest questions of existence, from the interpretation of quantum mechanics to string theory and cosmology. My desire to understand is driven purely by curiosity, and my aim in writing about these topics is to make the wonders of the universe as widely accessible as possible. But scientific knowledge and the advance of technology also has a potentially darker side. It is vital for the future of humanity that science is widely understood so that democratic informed decisions can be made to safeguard against its misuse, and this was the motivation for recommending my list of books.

Nicholas' book list on when contemplating the risks of nuclear technology

Nicholas Mee Why did Nicholas love this book?

Few topics are more important than the survival of humanity.

Daniel Ellsberg was a strategic military analyst and presidential advisor who worked for the RAND Corporation and later the Pentagon. His book The Doomsday Machine focuses on how the United States planned for nuclear war in the 1950s and 1960s and offers his first-hand account of the Cold War arms race and how the world teetered on the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

It is a stark reminder that for the foreseeable future we are condemned to live in a world where a small number of individuals wield the power to effectively end human civilization. There is no better account of how lucky we are to be here.

By Daniel Ellsberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Doomsday Machine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Non-Fiction

From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, the first insider expose of the awful dangers of America's hidden, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that is chillingly still extant

At the same time former presidential advisor Daniel Ellsberg famously took the top-secret Pentagon Papers, he also took with him a chilling cache of top-secret documents related to America's nuclear program in the 1960s. Here for the first time he reveals the contents of those now-declassified documents and makes clear their shocking relevance for today.

The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg's hair-raising…


Book cover of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War

David P. Barash Author Of Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents

From my list on preventing nuclear war.

Who am I?

I have worn two hats for many decades: evolutionary biology and antinuclear activism. The former appeals to my scientific self and the latter, to my political and emotional passions (although I pride myself in applying science and reason to my antinuclear work as well). The danger of nuclear war has NOT disappeared — or even notably diminished — with the end of the Cold War, and yet, public awareness of this situation has plummeted. Fortunately, there are many technically accurate and yet accessible book-based treatments of this topic, which I am happy to recommend ... my own not least!

David's book list on preventing nuclear war

David P. Barash Why did David love this book?

Kaplan does a marvelous job describing, as the subtitle indicates, “the secret history of nuclear war.” It is in a sense a sequel to Kaplan’s earlier The Wizards of Armageddon, which examined theorists of nuclear annihilation. In The Bomb, Kaplan takes us on a deep dive into the bowels of actual doomsday planning; an unforgettable and darkly educational trip!

By Fred Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bomb as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of the classic The Wizards of Armageddon and Pulitzer Prize finalist comes the definitive history of American policy on nuclear war-and Presidents' actions in nuclear crises-from Truman to Trump.

Fred Kaplan, hailed by The New York Times as "a rare combination of defense intellectual and pugnacious reporter," takes us into the White House Situation Room, the Joint Chiefs of Staff's "Tank" in the Pentagon, and the vast chambers of Strategic Command to bring us the untold stories-based on exclusive interviews and previously classified documents-of how America's presidents and generals have thought about, threatened, broached, and just barely…


Book cover of Gambling with Armageddon: Nuclear Roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis

László Borhi Author Of Hungary in the Cold War, 1945-1956: Between the United States and the Soviet Union

From my list on the search for truth in history.

Who am I?

I come from a small country, Hungary, the past of which was consciously falsified in the political system under which I grew up. Some chapters of it, like the cold war period, Soviet rule, the revolution of 1956 couldn't even be discussed. I was lucky because communism collapsed and archives were gradually opened just as I started my career as a historian. Books on international history are usually written from the perspective of the powerful states, I was interested in looking at this story from the perspective of the small guy. Writing this book was both a professional challenge and a personal matter for me. I'm currently a professor at Indiana University-Bloomington.

László's book list on the search for truth in history

László Borhi Why did László love this book?

I was privileged to know Marty Sherwin in person. He was the friendliest person ever with a tremendous sense of humour – and a magnificent, honest scholar.

He was the friendliest person ever with a tremendous sense of humour – and a magnificent, honest scholar. History, as Paul Ricoeur has reminded, is not a record to be played. The Cold War nuclear standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union, and mainly, the Cuban missile crisis did not have to end as they did, peacefully.

When two A bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945, a genie was released that the world will not be able to get rid of any time soon. Martin J. Sherwin, the doyen of American nuclear historians always argued that this did not have to be so. Nuclear technology could have been placed under international supervision and arms race and proliferation could have been…

By Martin J. Sherwin,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Gambling with Armageddon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Prometheus comes the first effort to set the Cuban Missile Crisis, with its potential for nuclear holocaust, in a wider historical narrative of the Cold War—how such a crisis arose, and why at the very last possible moment it didn't happen.

In this groundbreaking look at the Cuban Missile Crisis, Martin Sherwin not only gives us a riveting sometimes hour-by-hour explanation of the crisis itself, but also explores the origins, scope, and consequences of the evolving place of nuclear weapons in the post-World War II world. Mining new sources and materials, and going…


Book cover of The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump

David P. Barash Author Of Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents

From my list on preventing nuclear war.

Who am I?

I have worn two hats for many decades: evolutionary biology and antinuclear activism. The former appeals to my scientific self and the latter, to my political and emotional passions (although I pride myself in applying science and reason to my antinuclear work as well). The danger of nuclear war has NOT disappeared — or even notably diminished — with the end of the Cold War, and yet, public awareness of this situation has plummeted. Fortunately, there are many technically accurate and yet accessible book-based treatments of this topic, which I am happy to recommend ... my own not least!

David's book list on preventing nuclear war

David P. Barash Why did David love this book?

Bill Perry served as Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, after a distinguished prior career in science and engineering. There is probably no one better qualified to describe how we got into our current nuclear dilemma, more clear-eyed about the problems we are now confronting, and more realistic in advising how best to get out of it. He emphasizes that in our paranoia to avoid being attacked by a nuclear-armed opponent, we have created a system that, ironically, threatens us far more than any possible “enemy.”

By William J. Perry, Tom Z. Collina,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Button as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The President has the power to end the world in minutes. Right now, no one can stop him.

Since the Truman administration, America has been one "push of a button" away from nuclear war-a decision that rests solely in the hands of the President. Without waiting for approval from Congress or even the Secretary of Defense, the President can unleash America's entire nuclear arsenal.

Almost every governmental process is subject to institutional checks and balances. Why is potential nuclear annihilation the exception to the rule? For decades, glitches and slip-ups have threatened to trigger nuclear winter: misinformation, false alarms, hacked…


Book cover of The Wizards of Armageddon

Paul Lashmar Author Of Britain's Secret Propaganda War

From my list on the madness of the Cold War.

Who am I?

I started researching the way the West’s intelligence services manipulated the public when I was a student in the mid-1970s. I then became an investigative journalist and often returned to the subject in different ways, especially as a national security correspondent. I fully acknowledge the massive manipulation by the Communist Bloc during the Cold War but believe that it is important the public is aware of the manipulation that the West’s Cold Warriors utilized is fully known and recognized as it has left a legacy that has allowed for the rise of ‘fake news’.


Paul's book list on the madness of the Cold War

Paul Lashmar Why did Paul love this book?

Kaplan’s book captured the mindset of the Cold Warriors and how the concept of a nuclear holocaust became accepted. Brilliantly researched and written with a dispassionate eye, it remains one of the most insightful accounts of the nuclear weapons race and how it was exploited by the military to build their own empires. It was a great influence on my film Baiting the Bear about General Curtis 'Bomb them back to the Stone Age’ Lemay that I made for BBC's Timewatch in 1996. I haven’t yet read Kaplan’s latest book, The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War, which looks like a development of Wizards with new declassified material. 

By Fred Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wizards of Armageddon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the untold story of the small group of men who have devised the plans and shaped the policies on how to use the Bomb. The book (first published in 1983) explores the secret world of these strategists of the nuclear age and brings to light a chapter in American political and military history never before revealed.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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