Stickying this for a bit, as it’s nearly Christmas again. I hope this helps someone!
I’ve had an interest in nuclear war and bombs for a while now (purely theoretical, of course), and with Christmas coming up, I thought it might be useful to collect some of the more interesting books, movies, and knick-knacks I’ve come across that might be of interest to you or anyone you know who’s as fascinating by the thermonuclear as I am.
Doctor Strange, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is probably the best known movie about nuclear war. It’s one of my favorites. Darkly humorous, Peter Sellers and Stanley Kubrick make this movie something special. Back when I worked at a summer camp, the teacher showed the students this film, and the TA and I spent the class in the back laughing. Unfortunately, the students didn’t seem to enjoy it quite as much.
There’s a lot of books to choose from, and unfortunately, I’m not an expert, but I’ll try to provide some that I’ve either read and enjoyed or had recommended to me.
Raven Rock examines various government plans from the Cold War for surviving a nuclear war. And I really do mean government. There wasn’t much focus on civilian survival after the first few decades, as it was realized there just wasn’t much that could be done. It’s a little depressing, imagining what would happen in the event of a nuclear war, but honestly, how poorly most of the plans go when actually tried out gives me a little hope that our leaders wouldn’t want to go through with a nuclear war and risk their own lives.
Red Cloud at Dawn looks at the Soviets’ race towards getting their own nuclear weapons after the USA’s successful efforts.
Nuclear War Survival Skills purports to give you advice on surviving a nuclear exchange, including constructing a fallout shelter, keeping your water safe, and preparing yourself mentally.
Doomsday Men: The Real Dr Strangelove and the Dream of the Superweapon is about the search for ever more destruction weapons during the Cold War.
A Short History of Nuclear Folly details various accidents and irresponsible uses of nuclear technology, such as Teller’s plan to use nuclear bombs to create harbors in Alaska.
Henry Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War discussed how a nuclear war can be fought and what sort of consequences we can expect. Can civilization survive a nuclear war? How long will it take to recover? Probably not the cheeriest book, but it is interesting.
100 Suns, by Michael Light, is a photobook documenting nuclear tests. I personally find something beautiful in images of mushroom clouds and nuclear explosions, so if you know anyone else who does, this might be a good gift for them, or an interesting conversation starter of a coffee table book.
Defcon is heavily inspired by the movie Wargames. You play as one of five regions and spend DEFCONs 5 through 2 setting up your forces, positions your fleets and bombers, and gaining intelligence before you reach DEFCON 1 and begin launching nukes. It’s a fun game with an awesome aesthetic, and it has a free demo, so you can try it out before buying it.
The Fallout series is extremely popular, especially with the newest iteration, Fallout 4, having recently come out. The games are a series of RPGs that take place after a devastating nuclear apocalypse has destroyed most of civilization and humanity. Decades after the bombs fell, survivors have left their vaults and begun re-establishing society.
If you prefer board games, Twilight Struggle is currently the highest rated board game on Board Game Geek. It’s a card-driven strategy game for two players that takes place during the Cold War between the US and USSR. Different cards, inspired by history, have different affects on the board, with the players competing for victory points.
Trinitite is glass that was formed by the Trinity nuclear test at Los Alamos, the first nuclear weapon ever made. When the bomb detonated, it heated some of the surrounding sand and materials enough to turn them into this green glass. It’s a neat little piece of humanity’s ushering into the Nuclear Age.
I found it pretty hard to find any nuclear bomb figurines, but Mastercraft Collection sells ones of both Little Boy and Fat Man, the two bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end WWII. They’re a bit pricey, but the reviews are good, and they look pretty cool. I really want the Little Boy for my desk someday.
If you have a 3D printer, and I mean, come on, who doesn’t, there’s this Mushroom Cloud Lamp by Sebastian Wac. You just need to download the files and make it yourself, or have someone else with a 3D printer do it for you. Out of the various mushroom cloud lamps I’ve seen, this one is the most attractive to me.
If you’re looking for something a little less radioactive, ThinkGeek has these glow-in-the-dark soaps with a nuclear theme. Plus, you won’t need a nightlight in the bathroom anymore!
I hope this helps! If you have any suggestions, let me know! I’d especially be interested in a mushroom cloud desk statue.