100 books like We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes

By Andrew Hunt,

Here are 100 books that We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes fans have personally recommended if you like We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Other Eighties

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Andrew Hunt’s book covers swaths of American popular culture to reveal levels of public dissent, Martin’s book takes a similar approach, but with a particular focus on grassroots activism. Across the U.S., activism took many forms. The Nuclear Freeze campaign, with its simple call to halt the arms race, inspired (in June 1982) the largest public protest in American history. Others rebelled against Reagan’s painfully slow response to even recognize the AIDS epidemic, while on college campuses students rallied against Reagan’s policies towards apartheid-era South Africa. Martin’s examination of how various strands of feminism reacted to the conservative backlash of the Reagan Era is an especially welcome addition to the decade’s historiography.

By Bradford Martin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Other Eighties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ronald Reagan looms large in most accounts of the period, encouraging Americans to renounce the activist and liberal politics of the 1960s and '70s and embrace the resurgent conservative wave. But a closer look reveals that a sizable swath of Americans strongly disapproved of Reagan's policies throughout his presidency. With a weakened Democratic Party scurrying for the political center, many expressed their dissatisfaction outside electoral politics. Unlike the civil rights and Vietnam-era protesters, activists of the 1980s often found themselves on the defensive, struggling to preserve the hard-won victories of the previous era. Their successes, then, were not in ushering…


Book cover of Jonathan Schell: The Fate of the Earth, the Abolition, the Unconquerable World

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

In the 1940s, journalist John Hersey wrote an eye-opening expose on the effects of the atomic bombing of Japan with Hiroshima. In doing so, Hersey began to shape the already-contested memory of why America dropped “the bomb.” Following in Hersey’s footsteps, in the early 1980s Jonathan Schell penned a straightforward warning about the atomic age. After interviewing scientists, policymakers, and intellectuals, he began to pen an accessible essay exposing of what would happen to earth after a nuclear war. The result was Fate of the Earth, and it went on to become one of the most impactful pieces of non-fiction of the decade. It helped to validate scientist Carl Sagan’s controversial “nuclear winter” hypothesis, and inspired an untold number of the public to engage in antinuclear activism. To appreciate the early 1980s as a period of intense nuclear fear, this is a must-read.

By Jonathan Schell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a collected edition of three classic accounts of our nuclear predicament and the way forward to a peaceful world, by the Rachel Carson of the antiwar movement.

Brave, eloquent, and controversial, these classic works by Jonathan Schell illuminate the nuclear threat to our civilization, and envision a way forward to peace. In The Fate of the Earth--an international bestseller that inspired the nuclear freeze movement--Schell distills the best available scientific and technical information to imagine the apocalyptic aftereffects of nuclear war. Dramatizing the stakes involved in abstract discussions of military strategy, when first published…


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This work of fiction arrived at the tail end of the Reagan Era. Read without context, it’s an enjoyable romp through the life of “Gen X’ers” and their pre-professional lives. However, much as psychologists of the 1950s ascribed one root cause of the growing problem of “Juvenile Delinquency” to fears of atomic war, Coupland’s characters are similarly disaffected from growing up during a period of similar fears—fears confirmed when one character dreams of dying in an atomic explosion. In tracing the lives of three fictional characters of this last Cold War generation, Coupland shows the emotional impact of growing up knowing that they could die any day. Seen in this light, Generation X captures the disaffection, disillusion, and dissatisfaction of a generation.

By Douglas Coupland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Generation X is Douglas Coupland's classic novel about the generation born from 1960 to 1978―a generation known until then simply as twenty somethings.

Andy, Claire, and Dag, each in their twenties, have quit pointless jobs in their respective hometowns to find better meaning in life. Adrift in the California desert, the trio develops an ascetic regime of story-telling, boozing, and working McJobs―"low-pay, low-prestige, low-benefit, no-future jobs in the service industry." They create their own modern fables of love and death among the cosmetic surgery parlors and cocktail bars of Palm Springs as well as disturbingly funny tales of nuclear waste,…


Book cover of To Lead As Equals: Rural Protest and Political Consciousness in Chinandega, Nicaragua, 1912-1979

Gillian McGillivray Author Of Blazing Cane: Sugar Communities, Class, and State Formation in Cuba, 1868-1959

From my list on workers, populism, and revolution in Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became curious about US imperialism and Latin American history after reading Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. While pursuing a BA in History and Spanish at Dalhousie and an MA and PhD in Latin American Studies and History at Georgetown, I learned that Marquez's fictional banana worker massacre really happened in 1928 Colombia. What made me focus on sugar, rather than bananas, is the fact that sugar’s not really food... it often takes over land where food was planted, and the lack of food leads to a potentially revolutionary situation. I've used the following books in my classes about Revolution, Populism, and Commodities in Latin America at York University's Glendon College.

Gillian's book list on workers, populism, and revolution in Latin America

Gillian McGillivray Why did Gillian love this book?

To get through over a hundred books on my History PhD comprehensive exams list, I allowed myself a maximum of one reading day plus a maximum of one double-sided cue card per book.

Jeff Gould crammed so much super cool theory about populism and revolution, workers, and women into his beautifully written book that he got four cue cards and three days! Gould explains that the first Somoza (named “Anastasio”) rose to power largely thanks to US influence, but, once there, he built his own following and passed some remarkably progressive reforms, at least on paper.

The book changed the way I think about populism and revolution in Latin America, completely inspiring the PhD research that became my first book and my current project on rural populism in Brazil.
To Lead as Equals shows how powerful sugar workers can be when rural sugar-cane cutters unite with industrial sugar-factory workers, and…

By Jeffrey L. Gould,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Lead As Equals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a carefully argued study of peasants and labor during the Somoza regime, focusing on popular movements in the economically strategic department of Chinandega in western Nicaragua. Jeffrey Gould traces the evolution of group consciousness among peasants and workers as they moved away from extreme dependency on the patron to achieve an autonomous social and political ideology. In doing so, he makes important contributions to peasant studies and theories of revolution, as well as our understanding of Nicaraguan history.

According to Gould, when Anastasio Somoza first came to power in 1936, workers and peasants took the Somocista reform…


Book cover of French Peasant Fascism: Henry Dorgeres' Greenshirts and the Crises of French Agriculture, 1929-1939

Joseph Fronczak Author Of Everything Is Possible: Antifascism and the Left in the Age of Fascism

From my list on the worst sort of politics: fascism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who wrote a book on antifascism. In a way, I decided to write a book on the history of antifascism because I thought it was a good way to make sense of the history of fascism. Something along the lines of: Nobody knows you like your worst enemies. But I also thought that more books on the history of antifascism itself would be a good thing. There are many books on fascism and relatively few on anti-fascism. Ultimately, I decided to write Everything Is Possible because I thought that the first antifascists had useful lessons to share about how to turn the world toward something better than the one you’ve been given.

Joseph's book list on the worst sort of politics: fascism

Joseph Fronczak Why did Joseph love this book?

Ask some historians of fascism what book in English they recommend as an introduction to the subject, and, I’d guess, most will recommend Robert O. Paxton’s classic 2004 book-length essay, The Anatomy of Fascism.

Fair enough, but to my mind it is Paxton’s earlier monograph French Peasant Fascism that is his outright masterpiece of historical writing. If you’ve read The Anatomy of Fascism, there’s also the joy of seeing Paxton, in French Peasant Fascism, working out the ideas and themes that animate the later, better-known book. To understand the rightwing Depression-era French farmers known as the Greenshirts, Paxton argues, don’t focus so much on their official programs and doctrinal declarations, but rather watch them in action.

Watch them as they act out their ideology, at the market-day rally or when the taxman comes

By Robert O. Paxton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

French Peasant Fascism is the first account of the Greenshirts, a militant right-wing peasant movement in 1930s France that sought to transform the Republic into an authoritarian, agrarian state. Author Robert Paxton examines the Greenshirts in five case studies, throwing new light on French rural society and institutions during the Depression and on the emergence of a new rural leadership of authentic farmers. Paxton points out that fascism remained weak in
the French countryside because the French state protected landowners more effectively than did those of Weimar Germany and Italy, and because French rural notables were so firmly embedded in…


Book cover of The South vs. The South: How Anti-Confederate Southerners Shaped the Course of the Civil War

William Barney Author Of Rebels in the Making: The Secession Crisis and the Birth of the Confederacy

From my list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a youth devouring the books of Bruce Catton to my formative years as a historian, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War, especially the thinking and experiences of southerners who lived through the cataclysmic war years. In my teaching and writing, I’ve tried to focus on the lived experiences, the hopes and fears, of southerners who seemingly embraced secession and an independent Southern Confederacy in the expectation of a short, victorious war only to become disenchanted when the war they thought would come to pass turned into a long, bloody stalemate. The books I’ve listed share my passion for the war and open new and often unexpected windows into the Confederate experience.

William's book list on an offbeat look at the Confederacy

William Barney Why did William love this book?

This is the best source for understanding that the Confederacy, contrary to accepted wisdom, was not the South writ large. In a fast-paced narrative Freehling identifies the anti-Confederate dissenters – free as well as enslaved – who resisted Confederate rule and undermined it from within. He shows conclusively how Union victory was aided immeasurably by the lack of unity in the Confederacy.

By William W. Freehling,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Why did the Confederacy lose the Civil War? Most historians point to the larger number of Union troops, for example, or the North's greater industrial might. Now, in The South Vs. the South, one of America's leading authorities on the Civil War era offers an entirely new answer to this question.
William Freehling argues that anti-Confederate Southerners-specifically, border state whites and southern blacks-helped cost the Confederacy the war. White men in such border states as Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland, Freehling points out, were divided in their loyalties-but far more joined the Union army (or simply stayed home) than marched off…


Book cover of The Cold Millions

Mark Beauregard Author Of The Whale: A Love Story

From my list on witty historical novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved satire. In college, I wrote and performed comedy sketches as part of a two-man team, and most of my work features at least some comic elements. For example, my novel The Whale: A Love Story is a serious historical novel about the relationship between Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne that also offers moments of comedy to honor Melville's comic spirit (Moby-Dick, while ultimately tragic, is a very funny book). The most serious subjects usually contain elements of the absurd, and the books I love find humor in even the gravest situations. 

Mark's book list on witty historical novels

Mark Beauregard Why did Mark love this book?

A tale of labor unrest in the hardscrabble frontier of northwestern America sounds anything but fun or funny, but Walter explores the lives of miners, railroad workers, and Vaudeville performers with surprising verve and a glint of humor on nearly every page.

Set mostly in and around Spokane in the years between the mid-19th and early 20th centuries, this sweeping, satisfying story follows a pair of working-class brothers as they confront corrupt lawmen, scheming actresses, and violent union-busters.

By Jess Walter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Cold Millions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A beautiful, lyric hymn to the power of social unrest in American history...funny and harrowing, sweet and violent, innocent and experienced; it walks a dozen tightropes' Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
_____________________________________________

1909. Spokane, Washington.

The Dolan brothers are living by their wits, jumping freight trains and lining up for work at crooked job agencies. While sixteen-year-old Rye yearns for a steady job and a home, his dashing older brother Gig dreams of a better world, fighting alongside other union men for fair pay and decent treatment.

But then Rye finds himself drawn to suffragette…


Book cover of Dissent: The History of an American Idea

James Sullivan Author Of Which Side Are You On?: 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs

From my list on protest movements.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the author of five books on subjects ranging from comedy and music to sports and pants (specifically, blue jeans). I’m a longtime Boston Globe contributor, a former San Francisco Chronicle staff critic, and a onetime editor for Rolling Stone. I help develop podcasts and other programming for Sirius and Pandora. I teach in the Journalism department at Emerson College, and I am the Program Director for the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival and the co-founder of Lit Crawl Boston.

James' book list on protest movements

James Sullivan Why did James love this book?

There are two kinds of patriots: those who insist that allegiance to flag and country means keeping things the way they are, and those who want their country to live up to its ideals and do better by all its citizens. (Which side are you on?) In Dissent (2015), history professor Ralph Young shows how the foundational protest of the American Revolution lives on in the Occupy demonstrators and Women’s Marchers, Black Lives Matter groups, and climate change activists.

By Ralph Young,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Finalist, 2016 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award
One of Bustle's Books For Your Civil Disobedience Reading List
Examines the key role dissent has played in shaping the United States, emphasizing the way Americans responded to injustices
Dissent: The History of an American Idea examines the key role dissent has played in shaping the United States. It focuses on those who, from colonial days to the present, dissented against the ruling paradigm of their time: from the Puritan Anne Hutchinson and Native American chief Powhatan in the seventeenth century, to the Occupy and Tea Party movements in the twenty-first century. The emphasis…


Book cover of We're Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America

Andrew J. Cherlin Author Of Labor's Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America

From my list on what has happened to the American working class.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a sociologist who studies American family life. About 20 years ago, I began to see signs of the weakening of family life (such as more single-parent families) among high-school educated Americans. These are the people we often call the “working class.” It seemed likely that this weakening reflected the decline of factory jobs as globalization and automation have proceeded. So I decided to learn as much as I could about the rise and decline of working-class families. The books I am recommending help us to understand what happened in the past and what’s happening now.

Andrew's book list on what has happened to the American working class

Andrew J. Cherlin Why did Andrew love this book?

While a lot of attention has been paid to the industrial decline in cities, the loss of jobs in industries such as mining has caused distress in rural areas. Recently, we have seen rises in drug abuse, overdose deaths, and suicides in rural America. Jennifer Silva did fieldwork in a rural Pennsylvania area that has experienced these shocks to its system, and she shows us the difficulties its residents are having.

By Jennifer M. Silva,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We're Still Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics.

The economy has been brutal to American workers for several decades. The chance to give one's children a better life than one's own - the promise at the heart of the American Dream - is withering away. While onlookers assume those suffering in marginalized working-class communities will instinctively rise up, the 2016 election threw into sharp relief how little we know about how the working-class translate their grievances into politics.

In We're Still Here, Jennifer M. Silva tells a deep, multi-generational story of pain, place, and politics that will endure long…


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