Leading military historian, John Hughes-Wilson exposes just how close we have come to genuine nuclear disaster, military and civilian, on many occasions.
'It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler's crowd or Stalin's did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered' - US President Harry S. Truman
Truman evidently understood the terrifying power of atomic weaponry, but no one could have realised its full potential when he ordered the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Those military attacks, along with the disasters at the Fukashima and Chernobyl nuclear reactors, might immediately spring to mind at the mention of nuclear destruction, but the vast majority of the events recorded in this book are entirely unknown to most people. This book records the facts - many of them still shrouded in secrecy - which show a worrying truth: we have teetered precariously on the brink of Armageddon far more frequently than the general public realises.
Since that first and last atomic war in 1945, there have been a terrifying number of nuclear accidents and mishaps, from the careless or accidental to the genuinely intentional and only narrowly averted. Despite the catastrophic nature of any nuclear conflict, we have come to the very borders of such a situation ten times since the 1960s. Most people know about the Cuba Missile Crisis, and a few about Operation Able Archer in 1984, which, if anything, was even more frightening than Cuba, but there have been eight other occasions that might easily have toppled over into outright war. These were potential conflicts; but there have been other accidents, such as the reactor meltdown at the nuclear generating plant at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979, or the 'Palomares Incident' in 1966, when a USAF B-52 bomber crashed after a mid-air collision, dropping four hydrogen bombs on Spanish soil . . .
Eve of Destruction is a warning from history - recent history. It is a call to sit up and listen, and to take note of the very real danger of nuclear catastrophe. It is a timely and important book because, after all, the future of our planet has to concern us all.
Colonel John Hughes-Wilson is one of Britain's leading military historians, and a well-reviewed author and commentator on a wide range of intelligence and military-history subjects. He was selected to be the author of the Imperial War Museum's A History of the First World War in 100 Objects for 2014, the centenary of the start of the Great War. He also wrote Intelligence Blunders, which was found at Osama Bin Laden's bedside and has become a CIA textbook.
John has been a frequent broadcaster for BBC television and radio and worked alongside Huw Edwards and David Dimbleby providing commentary for events including the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Falklands War. During his twenty-five years in the Intelligence Corps and as a Special Forces operations officer, John saw active service in the Falkland Islands, Cyprus, Arabia, and Northern Ireland, as well as in the dangerous jungles of Whitehall and NATO.