Thomas Yeggy goes for a full and complete crisis immersion in the methodical science and political book Mushroom Cloud.
Doctor Caleb Young grew up among intellectuals which carried into his adult professional life. He graduated from Princeton University where Professor Einstein taught and he became a standout in physics and philosophy that parleyed into work with US intelligence and the executive branch. The book's title is a nod to the iconic mushroom-shaped smoke trail that appears when a nuclear fireball is compressed back down in the atmosphere. This is relevant in a book where the President of the United States is Harry Truman, who dropped the only atomic bombs used against a country in world history, and where meetings on strategy will have pointed statements like the US “...bombing seventy Soviet cities with a total of 133 atomic bombs, eight of which would be dropped on Moscow.” Caleb gets pulled in a lot of different directions with conferences on nuclear physics and the infamous lost super plane of the Cold War, the B-36.
Mushroom Cloud by Thomas Yeggy takes time to get into and I could not call it a quick page-turner but it is exhaustively researched. Yeggy is intentional in Mushroom Cloud's pacing so as not to gloss over small but important facts and details. I learned a lot more than I have read in any other novel like this, such as how greatly the Soviet military outsized the United States, the formation of NATO, and that creating an aircraft to carry a nuclear bomb is as complicated as creating the bomb itself. Two things I very much liked about what Yeggy puts into the book are references that prove the parts written into the story are true and verifiable, and that Yeggy does not give only the US perspective of what transpired. Conversations between characters like Malenkov and Bulganin, part of Stalin's inner circle, discuss the situations and I saw another parallel between the book's title and content: both sides showed that the exceptionalism demonstrated to the public was routinely a mushroom cloud smokescreen for genuine uncertainty. Intelligently written and immersive. Very highly recommended.