The most recommended books about Nuclear holocaust

Who picked these books? Meet our 21 experts.

21 authors created a book list connected to nuclear holocaust, and here are their favorite nuclear holocaust books.
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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.


Book cover of Spider World: The Tower

T.R. Thompson Author Of The Blood Within The Stone

From my list on speculative fiction about authority and its abuses.

Who am I?

I'm a spec-fic writer who has been fascinated by the world building and deep creativity of sci-fi and fantasy novels for over 40 years. A common theme in these genres is the use and abuse of power, especially of systems of authority that the main characters battle against—not always successfully! I've recently published a complete fantasy trilogy dealing with these same themes—The Wraith Cycle—and am looking forward to the publication of my next stand-alone sci-fi novel—The Currents Of Infinity—due to come out within the next year.

T.R.'s book list on speculative fiction about authority and its abuses

T.R. Thompson Why did T.R. love this book?

Not one for the arachnophobes! In the 25th century a nuclear holocaust has driven humans to hide in the desert from the predatory giant spiders who now rule the earth. But main character Niall has a secret, he shares the spiders' gift of telepathy, and moves to liberate humanity from the Spider Lord.

The description of the giant spiders' use of will to control their prey is fascinating, and the move from pure adventure story into political intrigue and power games is genius. A very underappreciated fantasy novel.

By Colin Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Once the Earth was ruled by human, and insects were very small, with even the largest no bigger than a man's fist. But now, in the 25th century, humans serve giant beetles and spiders as slaves and often as food.

Slaves all, or servants—except for those who live in the desert, spending most of their time underground. For Niall and his family, life is hard, but together they eke out an existence until the day Niall does what was said to be impossible:

He kills a spider.

This powerful act brings Niall to the attention and seat of the Spider…


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 Hiero's Journey

James Stoddard Author Of The Back of the Beyond

From my list on fantasy with talking animals for adults.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved fantasy novels, which is why I write them, though I tend more toward epic fantasy. My father had a great love of nature. It wasn’t unusual for him to stop in the middle of building a fence or walking across a pasture in order to examine a bug or watch a hawk in flight. He taught me the value of animals and the wonder of the world we live in. Because of it, I’m especially drawn to stories where the animals act and think like animals really might, so I can imagine their unique perspectives. Every species is unique, a miracle that they exist at all.

James' book list on fantasy with talking animals for adults

James Stoddard Why did James love this book?

Technically, though it has a fantasy feel, this is a post-apocalyptic science fiction story concerning Per Hiero Desteen, a sort of Knight’s Templar dedicated to recovering the knowledge lost after a nuclear holocaust. Hiero fights antilife telepaths and mutated monsters in a journey to discover a lost, ancient secret in time to save humanity from destruction. Fun stuff, but the charm of the book lies in his telepathic mount, Klootz, a bull morse (think of a giant moose), and Gorm, a telepathic bear who joins him on his mission. Long after you’ve forgotten the battles, the charm of the animals remains.

By Sterling E. Lanier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hiero's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Per Hiero Desteen was a priest, a telepath -- and a highly trained killer. Together with his great riding moose and the young bear who was his friend, he was on an extraordinary mission. For this was five thousand years after the holocaust known as The Death. Now the evil Brotherhood of the Unclean was waging all-out war against the few remnants of normal humanity, determined to wipe out all traces of its emerging civilization. Hiero's task was to bring back a lost secret of the ancients that might save the humans. But his path lay through the very heart…


Book cover of Alas, Babylon

Alexander Fisher Author Of Delirium

From my list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart.

Who am I?

I’ve always been fascinated by the strangeness of human character when tested to the limit by overwhelming catastrophe. I’ve always wanted to write a story that brings into stark relief the courage, fear, ambition, tragedy, absurdity, and the ecstatic. In other words, a disaster. And if character is destiny, then an apocalypse maybe the best way to show us who we really are and where we’re going. My debut novel, Delirium focuses on these extremes of character. And after writing it I reached one indelible conclusion: that the human being is the most disturbed creature, but also the most hopeful.

Alexander's book list on where a catastrophe makes society fall apart

Alexander Fisher Why did Alexander love this book?

I’ve always preferred those stories of great global catastrophes that remain in a single small location.

In the case of Alas, Babylon the small town of Fort Repose survives the nuclear holocaust because it’s small. Written at the height of the cold war when there were several and very real moments of brinkmanship between the Soviets and Americans. 

It’s a great read for another reason: this is a well-informed writer. For instance, here we find that salt is as vital for survival as water? And what good is a doctor if he has no medicine? These are things this little community has to face, but the author is hopeful.

This is one of those books that is a lens into a period in time but is at the same time easily readable and to the point. How Fort Repose deals with nuclear Armageddon is the same story of how all…

By Pat Frank,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Alas, Babylon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An extraordinary real picture of human beings numbed by catastrophe but still driven by the unconquerable determination of living creatures to keep on being alive.” —The New Yorker

“Alas, Babylon.” Those fateful words heralded the end. When the unthinkable nightmare of nuclear holocaust ravaged the United States, it was instant death for tens of millions of people; for survivors, it was a nightmare of hunger, sickness, and brutality. Overnight, a thousand years of civilization were stripped away.

But for one small Florida town, miraculously spared against all the odds, the struggle was only just beginning, as the isolated survivors—men and…


Book cover of Total War

Justin Oldham Author Of Haven's Legacy

From my list on action-oriented post-apocalyptic stories.

Who am I?

My firsthand experience of the Cold War influenced my taste in reading and entertainment from an early age. I’ve spent my entire adult life collecting books and movies that showcase adventure and adversity in situations where combinations of war and climate change have brought about the end of life as we knew it. All those influences have inspired me to make my own contributions to this form of literature.

Justin's book list on action-oriented post-apocalyptic stories

Justin Oldham Why did Justin love this book?

As a teenager, I was captivated by this fast-moving romp that didn’t pull any punches. With so many knockdown, drag-out action sequences, I couldn’t help wanting more. The author infused epic storylines with moments of heart-breaking humanity in a dark and dangerous world. This novel made me appreciate storytelling on a grand scale. Even now, it’s still a fun read. 

By Jerry Ahern,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is NUMBER ONE in the Survivalist series featuring the hero, John Thomas Rourke: The story of the ultimate war, the final nuclear holocaust and the unrelenting quest of John Thomas Rourke as he begins his search across war-ravaged America, following every haunting clue, however fragmentary, to locate his missing family.


Book cover of While the World Turns

S. Kirk Pierzchala Author Of Echoes Through Distant Glass

From S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Artist Educator Perceptive Patient Meticulous

S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did S. love this book?

I was bowled over with how novelist O’Neill skillfully transmutes a raw and desperate tale into a haunting and unforgettable fable of faith and sacrifice.

The stories of Aitor and Jacob, two priests selected to help rebuild the world following a nuclear apocalypse, are interwoven with those of Talik and Ziek, friends exiled from a city of mutants after Ziek exhibits symptoms of the dreaded Burdening disease. 

The two tragic storylines eventually converge as the sets of characters must confront daunting odds, constantly questioning whether God cares at all for mankind, or if He has finally turned His face away from a hopeless, murderous species. While it’s certainly a dark tale, I absolutely loved the achingly beautiful writing in this work.

By K.M. O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked While the World Turns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sixteen hundred years ago, as the old world died, a ship carried thirty-three priests and one hundred pilgrims into orbit. One by one, the priests lived solitary lives, praying for salvation. At his vigil's end, Father Aitor wakes the final priest--Jacob, whom he loves--to lead the survivors as they rebuild civilization. Their mission is clear: bring Christ to the wilderness. But Aitor has never heard God's voice, and he is beginning to believe that Jacob hasn't either. And when they encounter strange, deformed creatures, doubt is not their only threat. In a nearby community, Talit has always believed in the…


Book cover of A Gift Upon the Shore

Brittni Brinn Author Of The Patch Project

From my list on life-changing journeys of survival by women.

Who am I?

I’m a science fiction writer living in Nova Scotia, Canada. I’m drawn to character-driven stories that imagine hopeful and inclusive futures, and I absolutely love anything to do with robots. My post-apocalyptic Patch Project series is published with Adventure Worlds Press. After working in the theatre for a few years, I completed my Master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of Windsor. These days, I write novels featuring ensemble casts, found families, and maybe a con artist or two. These are some of my favourite books of all time, I hope you enjoy them!

Brittni's book list on life-changing journeys of survival by women

Brittni Brinn Why did Brittni love this book?

One of the best post-apocalyptic books I’ve read to date! Mary and Rachel survive a nuclear apocalypse in Rachel’s seaside home. After many long years of surviving and making a new life for themselves, a strange man appears on their shores. Mary decides to make a long journey that changes life for her and Rachel forever. The characters in this book and the writing are so believable, and the centering of books, art, and hope makes this a stand-out from the gray zombie-infested wastelands of recent mainstream post-apocalyptic stories.

By M.K. Wren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Gift Upon the Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, two women seek to preserve the small treasury of books available to them - a gift of knowledge and hope for future generations.

"[A] poignant expression of the durability, grace, and potential of the human spirit." -Jean M. Auel, author of the Earth's Children series

In the 21st Century, civilization is crumbling under the burden of overpopulation, economic chaos, petty wars, a horrific pandemic, and finally, a nuclear war that inevitably results in a deadly nuclear winter.

On the Oregon Coast, two women, writer Mary Hope and painter Rachel Morrow, scratch out a minimal existence as…


Book cover of Wingman

Justin Oldham Author Of Haven's Legacy

From my list on action-oriented post-apocalyptic stories.

Who am I?

My firsthand experience of the Cold War influenced my taste in reading and entertainment from an early age. I’ve spent my entire adult life collecting books and movies that showcase adventure and adversity in situations where combinations of war and climate change have brought about the end of life as we knew it. All those influences have inspired me to make my own contributions to this form of literature.

Justin's book list on action-oriented post-apocalyptic stories

Justin Oldham Why did Justin love this book?

I’ve never encountered anything else like this aviation-oriented apocalypse. The author skillfully blends supersonic air combat and cutthroat conquest in a shattered world. This is the most high-octane adventure concept I’ve read in the last 30 years. It grabbed me by the throat and never let go. For many reasons, I still feel influenced by it today.

By Mack Maloney,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in the bestselling, action-packed Wingman Series: With America in ashes, and lawlessness threatening to rule land, air, and sea, one pilot stands poised to pull his nation back from the brink of all-out anarchy
The Big War started in Western Europe with a Soviet nerve gas attack that laid waste to France, Germany, and Spain. The world's democracies fought back, and pilots like Hawk Hunter led the charge-tearing across the flaming wreckage of the continent at supersonic speeds. They pushed the Russians back and just when victory was in sight, a traitor at the highest level of…


Book cover of The Hand of God

S. Kirk Pierzchala Author Of Echoes Through Distant Glass

From S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Artist Educator Perceptive Patient Meticulous

S.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

S. Kirk Pierzchala Why did S. love this book?

I loved the dark, gritty, and wildly imaginative elements of this tale.

Esther, the young survivor of a nuclear apocalypse, is visited by an angelic entity and learns she is destined to save humanity. But what sort of person will she become after wielding the gift of her powers for five hundred years?

Yuval Kordov has created an impressive, intricate world and an intriguing underlying theological premise. I was completely caught up in the swift pacing, and his skilled, vivid writing helps the reader stay on track while navigating the numerous players and locales. Its vivid themes stayed with me long after I finished reading.

By Yuval Kordov,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The world ended—twice. Only Esther, the Eternal One, saw it all happen. As head of the powerful Revenant Sisterhood, she shepherds humanity from Cathedral, the Last City. Except Cathedral isn't the last city, and her sisterhood's power is far from holy.

It’s the year 2500, give or take. The passage of time has become as blurry as the gray wastes that cover most of North America. No moon or stars light the night, and demonic hordes smash against the last outposts of civilization.

Two reborn nations vie for humanity’s future. In the west, Cathedral unleashes its God-engines—ancient walking war machines—in…