Dark Sun, by Richard Rhodes (Simon & Schuster, £9.99 in UK)


Rhodes, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has a considerable and often frightening story to tell the history of America's atomic and hydrogen weapons, and their huge influence on international policies and politics. As early as 1941, the Russians through their secret agents had sniffed out the early Anglo American atom bomb research, which inside a few years enabled the US to blast Japan into surrender. In the postwar years the nuclear stalemate between East and West brought the Cold War into a virtual permafrost - broken, curiously enough, by the Cuban missile crisis which almost precipitated war but led instead to a period of precarious co-existence". Incidentally, Rhodes reveals that at least one of President Kennedy's leading advisers urged him to throw the entire US nuclear arsenal at the Soviet Union at that time. An absorbing but chilling read.