Doomsday Men, by PD Smith

Christopher Hirst
Friday 31 October 2008 01:00 GMT

Humane and highly readable, this book concerns a black subject: the destruction of humanity (or a good chunk of it).

The cobalt bomb, an H-bomb whose effect was immeasurably intensified when surrounded by cobalt, was conceived in 1950 by Leo Szilard as a warning about the arms race. Smith explores the implications of this suggestion from the satire of Dr Strangelove to the entirely serious proposals of Edward "Mr H-Bomb" Teller. This "super-salesman" for nuclear weaponry even advocated their use for excavating har-bours. The fallout was "no more dangerous than being an ounce overweight"

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in