72 books like The Bomb

By Fred Kaplan,

Here are 72 books that The Bomb fans have personally recommended if you like The Bomb. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety

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?

Command and Control is the gripping story of an accident at an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile silo in Arkansas in 1980 that resulted in the explosion of a Titan II missile.

The explosion blew the concrete lid off the silo and sent the missile’s nine-megaton thermonuclear warhead hurtling one hundred metres through the air. Fortunately, the warhead, which had 500 times the explosive power of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, did not explode.

Interwoven with the minute-by-minute account of this accident, Schlosser gives a riveting history of the development of nuclear weapons by the U.S. military and discusses the mechanisms that have been devised to ensure that they are not detonated unintentionally. He also describes numerous other alarming nuclear mishaps that have occurred over the years.

By Eric Schlosser,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Command and Control as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Oscar-shortlisted documentary Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner, finds its origins in Eric Schlosser's book and continues to explore the little-known history of the management and safety concerns of America's nuclear aresenal.

"A devastatingly lucid and detailed new history of nuclear weapons in the U.S. Fascinating." -Lev Grossman, TIME Magazine

"Perilous and gripping . . . Schlosser skillfully weaves together an engrossing account of both the science and the politics of nuclear weapons safety." -San Francisco Chronicle

A myth-shattering expose of America's nuclear weapons

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of…


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 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 With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War

William Knoblauch Author Of Nuclear Freeze in a Cold War: The Reagan Administration, Cultural Activism, and the End of the Arms Race

From my list on the Cold War in the 1980s.

Who am I?

My interest in the decade and in the Cold War came during graduate school. This was where I discovered Carl Sagan’s theory of a nuclear winter: that after a nuclear war, the debris and smoke from nuclear bombs would cover the earth and make it inhabitable for life on earth. Tracing debates between this celebrity scientist and U.S. policymakers revealed a hesitancy on either side to even consider each other’s point of view. This research made me reconsider the pop culture of my youth—films like The Day After and Wargames, music like “Shout” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and books from Don DeLillo’s White Noise to Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book—and ultimately see them as part of a political contest in which lives—our lives—were in the balance.  

William's book list on the Cold War in the 1980s

William Knoblauch Why did William love this book?

If Jonathan Schell’s Fate of the Earth examined the scientific, ecological, and social impacts of nuclear war, Robert Scheer’s With Enough Shovels is a direct inquiry into the Reagan Administration about their initial thoughts on the subject. Those thoughts, frankly, are frightening. As the title implicates, then-Deputy Under Secretary of Defense T.J. Jones literally suggested that surviving thermonuclear war was easy: “Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top…it’s the dirt that does it…if there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.” Comments by Reagan, Vice President Bush, Defense Secretary Weinberger, and an increasing contingent of “Neo-Conservatives” writing in journals such as Commentary echoed these sentiments. In part, Scheer’s book began a long process of the Reagan Administration scaling back their bravado and recognizing the real dangers of the atomic age. 

By Robert Scheer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

If there are enough shovels to go around, everybody's going to make it."" Scheer, a Los Angeles Times reporter and former Ramparts editor, got that assessment of American civil defense capabilities from T. K. Jones, current Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces, and a former Boeing manager. What ""T.K."" meant was that, with a shovel, anyone can dig a fallout shelter--a simple hole in the ground with a door over the top and three feet of earth on top of that. ""It's the dirt that does it,"" he said. The fact that…


Book cover of The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War

John A. Nagl Author Of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

From my list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq.

Who am I?

I am a retired Army officer who served in a tank unit in Operation Desert Storm. After that war, I became convinced that the future of warfare looked more like America’s experience in Vietnam than like the war in which I had just fought. I taught at West Point and then served in another tank unit early in the war in Iraq before being sent to the Pentagon where I helped Generals David Petraeus and Jim Mattis write the Army and Marine Corps doctrine for counterinsurgency campaigns. I am now studying and teaching about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a professor at the U.S. Army War College.  

John's book list on the exorbitant cost of America’s War in Iraq

John A. Nagl Why did John love this book?

The insurgents of the title are a group of military officers, many of whom had taught at West Point’s Department of Social Sciences, who attempted to help the Army and the nation come to terms with the war in Iraq. Ironically, most had been opposed to the invasion of Iraq in 2003; nonetheless, they worked with great urgency to understand the conflict and produce better policies to minimize the suffering and harm to U.S. interests it caused. The team, led by Army General David Petraeus and Marine General James Mattis, created the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual that Petraeus implemented when he took command of the Iraq war effort in 2007, changing the course of the war and America’s understanding of the future of conflict.

By Fred Kaplan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE INSURGENTS unfolds against the backdrop of two wars waged against insurgencies-- wars which the Pentagon's top generals didn't know how to fight. But a small group of soldiers and scholars did have a plan for fighting these kinds of wars, people like General David Petraeus and Colonels John Nagl, David Kilcullen, and H.R. McMaster. In order to push the idea of "counterinsurgency" warfare, they behaved like insurgents within their own army-and very self-consciously so. Fred Kaplan explains where this idea came from, and how the men and women who latched onto this idea created a community (some would refer…


Book cover of The Fear of Invasion: Strategy, Politics, and British War Planning, 1880-1914

Matthew S. Seligmann Author Of Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited: Winston Churchill and Social Reform in the Royal Navy, 1900-1915

From my list on Churchill’s First World War Navy.

Who am I?

I am a British naval historian and winner of the Sir Julian Corbett Prize for Naval History. My main area of interest is the Anglo-German naval race before the First World War. I have written numerous books on this topic including Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited: Winston Churchill and Social Reform in the Royal Navy, 1900-1915 (2018); The Naval Route to the Abyss: The Anglo-German Naval Race, 1895-1914 (2015); The Royal Navy and the German Threat, 1901-1914 (2012); Naval Intelligence from Germany (2007); and Spies in Uniform: British Military and Naval Intelligence on the Eve of the First World War (2006). 

Matthew's book list on Churchill’s First World War Navy

Matthew S. Seligmann Why did Matthew love this book?

This book genuinely changes our understanding of British defence policy before the First World War. It is often assumed that the German challenge to British naval supremacy before 1914 was a mirage and that fears that Germany might launch an invasion of the British Isles were simple scaremongering. The reality was different. The Royal Navy may have been bigger and stronger than its German counterpart, but its task was harder and its leaders were not confident that they could prevent German soldiers from landing on British soil. Based on first-rate research, this book explains why.

By David G. Morgan-Owen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Fear of Invasion presents a new interpretation of British preparation for War before 1914. It argues that protecting the British Isles from invasion was the foundation upon which all other plans for the defence of the Empire were built up. Home defence determined the amount of resources available for other tasks and the relative focus of the Army and Navy, as both played an important role in preventing an invasion. As politicians were reluctant to
prepare for offensive British participation in a future war, home defence became the means by which the government contributed to an ill-defined British 'grand'…


Book cover of Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Author Of American Estrangement: Stories

From my list on ways to fit in in America.

Who am I?

Other than the fact that I grew up in the United States, the son of a Jewish-American mother, an Iranian-born father, a thirteen-letter unpronounceable letter last name, the 444-day Iranian hostage crisis, and parents who were both members of the Socialist Workers Party, which advocated for a working-class revolution along the lines of the Russian Revolution—I am a typical American. I like hamburgers, Martha Stewart, and the New York Yankees. Trace elements of my upbringing can still be found in my memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, my two short story collections, and my worldview, which I’m still working on in therapy. 

Saïd's book list on ways to fit in in America

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Why did Saïd love this book?

Nothing is more American than making war in other countries, and Phil Klay’s collection of essays investigates that line between those Americans who fight in our current wars and those who get to stay home and eventually forget that there’s even a war taking place somewhere. Klay knows about what he writes. He’s a former marine who was stationed in Iraq, and while not seeing combat himself, he did see firsthand the complex relationship between occupied and occupier. Upon his return home, he was plunged into an even more surreal place: a country that had long since stopped paying attention. Bonus reading: Klay’s National Book Award-winning short story collection, Redeployment, where you can see how fiction becomes transmuted into nonfiction and vice versa.

By Phil Klay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment and Missionaries, an astonishing fever graph of the effects of twenty years of war in a brutally divided America.

When Phil Klay left the Marines a decade ago after serving as an officer in Iraq, he found himself a part of the community of veterans who have no choice but to grapple with the meaning of their wartime experiences—for themselves and for the country. American identity has always been bound up in war—from the revolutionary war of our founding, to the civil war that ended slavery, to the two world wars that…


Book cover of Scales on War: The Future of America's Military at Risk

Gabriella Rosen Kellerman Author Of Tomorrowmind: Thriving at Work with Resilience, Creativity, and Connection—Now and in an Uncertain Future

From my list on how work is changing and what it means for workers.

Who am I?

I’ve devoted my career to helping people achieve their potential and improve their wellbeing. One of the greatest challenges we’re all facing today is the highly unnatural world of work in which we all must perform. I’ve been fortunate both to lead large teams in this environment and to guide the Fortune 1000 on how to help their people thrive in its midst. Achieving sustainable peak performance requires that we understand what we are up against. This book list is a great place to start!

Gabriella's book list on how work is changing and what it means for workers

Gabriella Rosen Kellerman Why did Gabriella love this book?

Quite a lot about what the defining forces in today’s world of work became clear to our military leaders many decades ago. Warfare was once centralized, linear, and choreographed. Modern war is fragmented, dynamic, and unpredictable. The term VUCA itself came from the military.

Scales is one of our greatest military thinkers leading the way on how we should be approaching soldier readiness in this new reality. We need to think much more about psychological agility and resilience so that the front lines are enabled to respond to an unforeseeable challenge. He’s ahead of the corporate curve in this thinking, but just by a hair. 

By Bob Scales,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Scales on War is a collection of ideas, concepts, and observations aboutcontemporary war taken from over thirty years of research, writing, andpersonal experience by retired Major General Bob Scales. Scales' unique styleof writing utilizes contemporary military history, current events, and hisphilosophy of ground warfare to create a very personal and expansive view ofthe future direction of American defense policies.

Each chapter in the book addresses a distinct topic facing the upcomingprospects of America's military, including tactical ground warfare, future gazing,the draft, and the role of women in the infantry. Fusing all of these topicstogether is Scales' belief that, throughout its…


Book cover of Berlin in the Balance: The Blockade, the Airlift, the First Major Battle of the Cold War

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

From my list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift.

Who am I?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

Helena P. Schrader Why did Helena love this book?

Parris’ book provides a “peek behind the curtains” to look at the decision-making process, particularly in Washington.

He uses eye-witness reports to highlight the differences between the various actors, and underlines disagreements within governments. Truman, for example, was not only often at odds with his generals and diplomats, he was also considered a “lame duck” president, destined for electoral defeat during the critical early months of the blockade and airlift.

Understanding his relationships with his cabinet officials is thus extremely illuminating and well handled by Parrish. The weakness of the book is that its focus on American politics and issues results in a comparative neglect of British, German, and Soviet perspectives.   

By Thomas Parrish,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Berlin in the Balance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In June 1948, Soviet authorities in Germany announced a land blockade of the American, British, and French sectors of Berlin. Isolated more than one hundred miles within Soviet-occupied territory, western Berlin was in danger of running out of coal, food, and the courage to stand up to Joseph Stalin.As Berlin in the Balance recounts, this crisis was a turning-point for U.S. policy. Just three years earlier, the Soviet Union had been an ally and Berlin the target of American bombers. In 1946 Winston Churchill had ignited protests by calling for an Anglo-American alliance against the USSR. The Berlin blockade made…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in military policy, nuclear warfare, and military strategy?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about military policy, nuclear warfare, and military strategy.

Military Policy Explore 30 books about military policy
Nuclear Warfare Explore 38 books about nuclear warfare
Military Strategy Explore 10 books about military strategy