Nuclear history bibliography, 2012

by Alex Wellerstein, published December 28th, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, I thought it might be useful to try and draw together a bibliography of nuclear history scholarship that was published over the course of the year.

Some TOP SECRET stamps from the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy files. Just inserted here so there is something to look at other than text!

This list is unlikely to be complete — I've made something of a preliminary survey, but I don't claim to have checked everywhere — and if there are things I'm missing, please let me know in the comments or by e-mail. I'll update this as new information comes in. One obvious thing missing are chapters in edited volumes; those are harder to find using traditional academic search engines.

As for the "rules for inclusion," they are both boring and common-sensical. Must have a publication date of 2012. Must look like "scholarship" of some sort. Must be something that is primarily in the genre of the history of nuclear weapons or nuclear power. I'm just trying to make a useful list here (for myself as well as others) and some inclusions/exclusions are going to be necessarily arbitrary. I have not read all of these — not even most of these — I do not endorse any of them. This is just a list. The citations might not be complete; it is just a guide. I thought about including book reviews, which are often quite useful and insightful (and hey, I wrote a few), but decided it would make this list completely ungainly and my task disproportionately difficult. 

Looking this over, the obvious trend is that 2012 was the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which meant a lot of monographs on the subject came out this year. Without further ado...


Barrett, David M. and Max Holland. Blind over Cuba: The Photo Gap and the Missile CrisisCollege Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2012.

Blight, James G. The armageddon letters: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro in the Cuban missile crisis. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012.

Brown, Andrew. Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Burke, David Allen. Atomic testing in Mississippi: Project Dribble and the quest for nuclear weapons treaty verification in the Cold War era. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2012.

Burtch, Andrew. Give Me Shelter: The Failure of Canada'’s Cold War Civil Defence. University of British Columbia Press, 2012.

Coleman, David G. The fourteenth day: JFK and the aftermath of the Cuban Missile CrisisNew York : W.W. Norton & Co., 2012.

Fraser, Gordon. The quantum exodus: Jewish fugitives, the atomic bomb, and the Holocaust. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Fuhrmann, Matthew. Atomic assistance: how "atoms for peace" programs cause nuclear insecurity. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.

Gavin, Francis J. Nuclear statecraft: history and strategy in America's atomic age. Cornell University Press, 2012.

Gibson, David R. Talk at the brink: deliberation and decision during the Cuban Missile CrisisPrinceton: Princeton University Press, 2012.

Hecht, Gabrielle. Being nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012.1.

Heefner, Gretchen. The missile next door: the Minuteman in the American heartland. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Hosaka, Masayasu. [Japan's Atomic Bomb : Its Development and Procedural Setbacks] Nihon no genbaku: sono kaihatsu to zasetsu no dōtei / 日本の原爆: その開発と挫折の道程 . Tōkyō: Shinchōsha, 2012.

Hymans, Jacques E. C. Achieving Nuclear Ambitions: Scientists, Politicians, and Proliferation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Iversen, Kristen. Full body burden: growing up in the nuclear shadow of Rocky Flats. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012.2

Johnson, Robert R. Romancing the atom: nuclear infatuation from the radium girls to Fukushima. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger, 2012.

Kaufman, Scott. Project Plowshare: The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012.

Khalatnikov, Isaak M. From the Atomic Bomb to the Landau Institute: Autobiography. Top Non-Secret. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2012.

Khan, Feroz Hassan. Eating grass: the making of the Pakistani bomb. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Larsen, Jeffrey Arthur. Rearming at the dawn of the Cold War: Louis Johnson, George Marshall, and Robert Lovett, 1949-1952. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press for the Historical Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 2012.

Matthews, Melvin E. Duck and cover: civil defense images in film and television from the Cold War to 9/11. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2012.

Mikoyan, Sergo, and Svetalana Savranskaya, ed. The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the missiles of November. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Miyamoto, Yuki. Beyond the mushroom cloud: commemoration, religion, and responsibility after Hiroshima. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012.

Monk, Ray. Inside the centre: the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. London, Jonathan Cape, 2012.

Munton, Don. The Cuban Missile Crisis: a concise history. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012

Priestley, Rebecca. Mad on radium: New Zealand in the atomic age. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press, 2012.

Schweber, S. S. Nuclear forces: the making of the physicist Hans Bethe. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Stern, Sheldon M. The Cuban Missile Crisis in American memory: myths versus reality. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Stoddart, Kristan. Losing an empire and finding a role: Britain, the USA, NATO and nuclear weapons, 1964-70. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ;New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Szasz, Ferenc M. Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World. Reno, Nevada: University of Nevada Press, 2012.

Takahashi, Hiroko. [Closing Hiroshima & Nagasaki: The American Nuclear Experiment and Civil Defense Planning] Fūinsareta Hiroshima, Nagasaki: Bei kakujikken to minkan bōei keikaku / 封印されたヒロシマ・ナガサキ: 米核実験と民間防衛計画. Tōkyō: Gaifūsha, 2012.

Taubman, Philip. The Partnership: Five Cold War Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers, 2012.

Touze, Vincent. Missiles et décisions: Castro, Kennedy et Khrouchtchev et la crise de Cuba d'octobre 1962. Bruxelles: Versaille, 2012.

Walker, John R. Britain and disarmament: the UK and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons arms control and programmes, 1956-1975. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2012.

Van Lente, Dick, ed. The nuclear age in popular media: a transnational history, 1945-1965. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Weart, Spencer R. The rise of nuclear fear. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Wilson, Jim. Britain on the brink: the Cold War's most dangerous weekend, 27-28 October 1962. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Military, 2012.

Yamamoto, Akihiro. [A Discourse on the Postwar History of Nuclear Energy, 1945-1960 : "Memories of the Bomb" and "Dreams of Nuclear PowerKaku enerugī gensetsu no sengoshi, 1945-1960: "hibaku no kioku" to "genshiryoku no yume" / 核エネルギー言說の戦後史, 1945-1960: 「被爆の記憶」と「原子力の夢」. Kyōto-shi: Jinbun Shoin, 2012.

Zellen, Barry Scott. State of doom: Bernard Brodie, the bomb, and the birth of the bipolar world. London: Continuum, 2012.


Børresen, Hans Christofer. “Flawed Nuclear Physics and Atomic Intelligence in the Campaign to deny Norwegian Heavy Water to Germany, 1942–1944.” Physics in Perspective 14, no. 4 (2012).

Connelly, Matthew, Matt Fay, Giulia Ferrini, Micki Kaufman, Will Leonard, Harrison Monsky, Ryan Musto, Taunton Paine, Nicholas Standish, and Lydia Walker. "'General, I Have Fought Just as Many Nuclear Wars as You Have': Forecasts, Future Scenarios, and the Politics of Armageddon." The American Historical Review 117, no. 5 (2012).3

Dvorak, Darrell F. "The Other Atomic Bomb Commander: Col. Cliff Heflin and his 'Special' 216th AAF Base Unit." Air Power History 59, no. 4 (Winter 2012).

Dorn, A. Walter, and Robert Pauk. "The closest brush: How a UN secretary-general averted doomsday." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68, no. 6 (November/December 2012).

Edwards, Paul N. "Entangled histories: Climate science and nuclear weapons research." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68, no. 4 (July/August 2012).

Fischer, Benjamin B. "Anglo-American Intelligence and the Soviet War Scare: The Untold Story." Intelligence and National Security 27, no. 1 (February 2012).

Geist, Edward. "Was There a Real 'Mineshaft Gap'?: Bomb Shelters in the USSR, 1945–1962." Journal of Cold War Studies 14, no. 2 (Spring 2012).

Goodson, Donald L. R. "Catalytic Deterrence? Apartheid South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Strategy." Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies 32, no. 2 (2012).

Grant, Matthew. "British nuclear weapons and the test ban, 1954–73: Britain, the United States weapons policies and nuclear testing: tensions and contradictions." Journal of Transatlantic Studies 10, no. 3 (September 2012).

Hamblin, Jacob Darwin. "Fukushima and the Motifs of Nuclear History." Environmental History 17, no. 2 (2012).

Hastings, Justin V. "The geography of nuclear proliferation networks: the case of A.Q. Khan." Nonproliferation Review 19, no. 3 (2012).

Hecht, Gabrielle. "An elemental force: Uranium production in Africa, and what it means to be nuclear." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68, no. 2 (March/April 2012).

Higuchi, Toshihiro. “‘Genshi maguro’ no tanjō: Dai go Fukuryū maru jiken go no kankyō hōshanō sokutei jō no hantei kijun no hensen” [The Birth of “Atomic Tuna”: Changes in the Administrative Criteria for Environmental Radiation Monitoring in Japan after the Lucky Dragon Incident of 1954], Seibutsugakushi kenkyū [Japanese Journal of the History of Biology] 87 (2012).

Hogg, Jonathan and Christoph Laucht. "Introduction: British Nuclear Culture." British Journal for the History of Science 45, no. 4 (December 2012).

Jasper, Ursula. "The ambivalent neutral: rereading Switzerland's nuclear history." Nonproliferation Review 19, no. 2 (2012).

Johnston, Sean F. “Making the invisible engineer visible: DuPont and the recognition of nuclear expertise.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 3 (2012).

Jolivette, Catherine. "Science, Art and Landscape in the Nuclear Age." Art History 35, no. 2 (April 2012).

Kemp, R. Scott. “The end of Manhattan: How the gas centrifuge changed the quest for nuclear weapons.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 2 (2012).4

Kinney, D.J. "The otters of Amchitka: Alaskan nuclear testing and the birth of the environmental movement." The Polar Journal 2, no. 2 (December 2012).

Kirk, Andrew. "Rereading the Nature of Atomic Doom Towns." Environmental History 17, no. 3 (2012).

Krige, John. “Hybrid knowledge: the transnational co-production of the gas centrifuge for uranium enrichment in the 1960s.” British Journal for the History of Science 45, no. 3 (2012).

Krige, John. "The proliferation risks of gas centrifuge enrichment at the dawn of the NPT: Shedding light on the negotiating history." Nonproliferation Review 19, no. 2 (2012).5

Lewis, John W. and Xue Litai. "Making China’s nuclear war plan." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists  68, no. 5 (September/October 2012).

Malloy, Sean L. “‘A very pleasant way to die’: Radiation effects and the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan." Diplomatic History 36, no. 3 (2012).6

Mundey, Lisa M. “The Civilianization of a Nuclear Weapon Effects Test: Operation ARGUS.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 42, no. 4 (2012).

Norris, Robert S. and Hans M. Kristensen. "The Cuban Missile Crisis: A nuclear order of battle, October and November 1962." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68, no. 6 (November/December 2012).7))

Overpeck, Deron. "‘Remember! it's Only a Movie!’ Expectations and Receptions of The Day After (1983)." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 32, no. 2 (June 2012).

Robb, Thomas. "Nuclear Illusion, Nuclear Reality: Britain, the United States and Nuclear Weapons, 1958–64." The International History Review 34, no. 2 (2012).

Sethi, Megan Barnhart. "Information, Education, and Indoctrination: The Federation of American Scientists and Public Communication Strategies in the Atomic Age." Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 42, no. 1 (2012).

Sime, Ruth Lewin. “The Politics of Forgetting: Otto Hahn and the German Nuclear-Fission Project in World War II.” Physics in Perspective 14, no. 1 (2012).

Slaney, Patrick David. “Eugene Rabinowitch, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the Nature of Scientific Internationalism in the Early Cold War.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 42, no. 2 (2012).

Sobek, David, Dennis M. Foster, and Samuel B. Robison. "Conventional Wisdom? The Effect of Nuclear Proliferation on Armed Conflict, 1945-2001." International Studies Quarterly 56, no. 1 (March 2012).

Theaker, Martin. "Elemental Germans: Klaus Fuchs, Rudolf Peierls and the Making of British Nuclear Culture 1939–59." Contemporary British History 26, no. 4 (December 2012).

Tobey, William. "Nuclear scientists as assassination targets." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68, no. 1 (January/February 2012).8

Walker, John R. "Potential Proliferation Pointers from the Past: Lessons from the British Nuclear Weapons Program, 1952–69." Nonproliferation Review 19, no. 1 (2012).9

Weisiger, Marsha. "Happy Cly and the Unhappy History of Uranium Mining on the Navajo Reservation." Environmental History 17, no. 1 (2012).

Wellerstein, Alex. “A tale of openness and secrecy: The Philadelphia Story.” Physics Today 65, no. 5 (2012).10

Wellock, Thomas R. “Engineering Uncertainty and Bureaucratic Crisis at the Atomic Energy Commission, 1964–1973.” Technology and Culture 53, no. 4 (2012).

Wilson, Richard. "The Development of Risk Analysis: A Personal Perspective." Risk Analysis 32, Issue 12 (December 2012).


Some of the citations I got from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues; others were found from keyword searches against the Harvard Library catalog (old habits die hard) and some publisher-specific searches. Google Scholar proved to be no help whatsoever — too much noise, too little signal, too hard to filter by discipline. Thanks to my old friend Anthony Walker for helping me with the Japanese translations. Thanks to Will Thomas and Michael Gordin for giving this a look-see before I put it up. If I've missed something or screwed something up — highly likely — please get in touch.

  1. I wrote an essay-review of this for Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences under the title "Nuclear others," available here. []
  2. Iversen's biographical account of Rocky Flats was discussed by me in part here. []
  3. Winner of the 2012 "Wow That's a Lot of Co-Authors Award." []
  4. I discussed Kemp's article on the development of the centrifuge here. []
  5. I discussed these Krige articles on US-UK centrifuge history in this post. []
  6. For a discussion (and review) of Malloy's article on radiation effects, see my post here. []
  7. For a discussion of Norris and Kristensen's accounting of those nukes in Cuba and elsewhere, see my post here. []
  8. A little discussion of Tobey's article on nuclear assassination is here, along with my own thoughts. []
  9. Winner of the 2012 "Most Alliterative Article Award." []
  10. My article on the "Philadelphia Story" is discussed and linked-to here. []

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24 Responses to “Nuclear history bibliography, 2012”

  1. Mark L. says:

    Thank you for writing this – I can see a few on here I hadn’t heard of that I’m definitely going to check out!

    Only thing I can contribute is, while I haven’t read it yet, Scott Kaufman’s Project Plowshare
    The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War America
    , from Cornell University Press, looks very interesting.

  2. Great list. There’s also the upcoming “5 Myths about Nuclear Weapons” by Ward Wilson (technically out in 2013 although I got an advance copy) which is the most concise argument against nuclear weapons that I have come across.

    • Thanks — yes, there are a number of “2013” books released at the end of 2012, but I figure I’ll just include them in next year’s, just to make things neat and straightforward.

  3. Kathy Olesko says:

    Thanks for publishing! I can add:

    FirstView of Cambridge Journals Online published the following on 11/2/12:
    Jonathan Hogg and Christoph Laucht, “Introduction: British Nuclear Culture,” British Journal for the History of Science 45 (4) December 2012. The entire volume will be on British Nuclear Culture.

    Toshihiro Higuchi, “‘Genshi maguro’ no tanjō: Dai go Fukuryū maru jiken go no kankyō hōshanō sokutei jō no hantei kijun no hensen” [The Birth of “Atomic Tuna”: Changes in the Administrative Criteria for Environmental Radiation Monitoring in Japan after the Lucky Dragon Incident of 1954], Seibutsugakushi kenkyū [Japanese Journal of the History of Biology] 87 (2012): 27-29.

  4. Alex,
    A very helpful thing indeed! thank you for assembling this critical material. Best,

  5. p.s.
    This makes me realize what a daunting task it is to stay up to date on current scholarship. Oy.

    • I don’t really try to keep up in any regular way, but I’ve found (from compiling a quarterly list of publications in the history of physics for AIP) that having a curated bibliography goes a long way in keep abreast of what sorts of things I ought to notice. Or pretend I’ve noticed.

  6. Charles Day says:

    Lawrence Freedman of King’s College London has written several nuke-themed books. Check out the bibliography on his departmental webpage.

  7. Mary Manning says:

    Hi, Alex,
    Thank you so much for publishing this list. You might want to add Andrew Brown’s “Keeper of the Nuclear Conscience: The Life and Work of Joseph Rotblat,” published by Oxford University Press in 2012.

  8. pn64 says:

    >Hecht, Gabrielle. Being nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012.1.

    Не знаете, правда, что 80% урана для манхэттенского проекта получено из Бельгийского Конго?

    • “Do you know, is it true, that 80% of the uranium in the Manhattan Project was from the Belgian Congo?”

      Yes — that is about right, though I do not know the exact percentages. It came from ore that had been mined in the Congo and moved to New York by Edgar Sengier very early on in the war. The Congo ore was of a much higher purity rate than any other ores available to the Allies at the time and made the job much easier. I am not sure that they could have accomplished the bomb in time without the Congo ore.

      • pn64 says:

        Прошу прощения, что пишу на русском языке – мой английский весьма плох.

        >…moved to New York by Edgar Sengier very early on in the war.

        Речь идет не только об этом уране.

        США послали в Африку инженерный корпус для восстановления шахт и строительства коммуникаций.
        Добыча руды в Катанге возобновилась. До окончания войны ещё 25 судов, гружённых рудой, отправились через океан в Америку (всего 30 тыс. т); из них только одно было потоплено немцами.
        В итоге более 80 % урана, использованного в Манхэттенском проекте, было получено из конголезской руды.
        p. 11

        К сожалению, в этой статье не указан источник информации. Раз нету – будем искать дальше.

        PS. У Вас очень интересный блог. Читаю его постоянно.

        • It is no problem that you write in Russian. It is easier for me to read good Russian than bad English, and I hope it is the same for you for me writing in English, as my written Russian is not great!

          You are correct about the re-opening of the mine during the war – I had forgotten about that. Thank you.

  9. D Colley says:

    Back in the day I was an Emergency Planning Officer in Scotland. When I first started the job in 1989 we were funded to carry out Civil Defence planning, but I was employed to look at Emergency Planning on an All-Hazards basis. This was our way of making good use of government resources for a greater public need. Those units South of the border weren’t allowed to do this. By the time I moved on in 1999 we were planning with no regard for atomic bombs and dealing with legislation like CIMAH/COMAH.

    I know your site is more for US Civ Def, but this you-Tube account has a tremendous collection of Protect and Survive films that were to be used in the case of attack.
    And here is a reliable source of some of the material that would be issued to people in a time of heightened tension.

  10. B. Angevine says:

    Would Paul Bracken’s The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics qualify?

  11. Kathy Olesko says:

    Another one:
    Christoph Laucht, Elemental Germans: Klaus Fuchs, Rudolf Peierls and the Making of British Nuclear Culture, 1939-59. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

  12. Mara Drogan says:

    Hi Alex, I am late to the party but just wanted to point out a *correction* to this handy list:

    Johnston, Sean F. “Making the invisible engineer visible: DuPont and the recognition of nuclear expertise.” Technology and Culture *52.3 (Jul 2011)*

  13. […] that time again. With the New Year comes new lists, and like I did last year, I’ve tried to put together a bibliography of nuclear history scholarship that was published […]

  14. […] the state of the field as it is represented in print. The rules are the same as last time and the time before: the boundary of what is being defined as “nuclear history” is a vague one (the […]