In 1945, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and old ideas of warfare came to an end. This book tells how the power of the atom was harnessed to produce weapons capable of destroying human civilisation. There were few villains in the story. On both sides of the Iron Curtain, dedicated scientists cracked the secrets of nature, dutiful military men planned to use the bomb in war, politicians contemplated with a potentially intolerable decision. Patriotic citizens acquiesced in the idea that their country needed the ultimate means of defence. Some tried to grapple with the unanswerable question: what end could possibly be served by such a fearsome means? Those who protested went unheard. None wanted to start a nuclear war, but all were paranoid. The danger of war by accident or misjudgement was never entirely absent. Rodric Braithwaite, author of bestsellers Moscow 1941 and Afgantsy, paints a vivid and thought-provoking portrait of this intense period in history. Its implications are as relevant today as they ever were, as ignorant and thoughtless talk about nuclear war begins to spread once more.