Review of Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown

Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown
by Steve Sheinkin
Middle School, High School    Roaring Brook    352 pp.    g
9/21    978-1-250-14901-5    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-14902-2    $10.99

Sheinkin returns to the milieu of his award-winning Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon (rev. 11/12) for this equally compelling sequel. In the aftermath of World War II, the United States and Russia emerge as global superpowers, each vying for ideological, technological, and territorial dominance. Cold War tensions eventually climax with the Cuban ­Missile Crisis, bringing the rivals perilously close to nuclear war. Castro, Eisenhower, ­Kennedy, and Khrushchev play significant roles in shaping world events leading up to it: the partitioning of Germany, the Berlin Wall, and the metaphorical Iron Curtain; the development of the hydrogen bomb and the subsequent arms race; the equally competitive space race; and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. But Sheinkin also introduces a colorful parade of lesser-known characters who step forward for their fifteen minutes of fame — scientists and spies; U-2 pilots and submarine captains; secretaries, cyclists, and mobsters. Deftly weaving these anecdotes into the larger tapestry of history and politics, Sheinkin crafts an epic narrative with a large cast of characters, far-flung settings, multiple plot strands, and rising suspense, further evidence that one of our best nonfiction writers is also one of our best ­storytellers. Black-and-white photographs are ­strategically placed at the beginning and end of chapters, while generous source notes, a bibliography, and an index are appended.

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.
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