biobooksslate columnsarticlesappearancesjazz blogblue-ray reviews


The Bomb by Fred Kaplan

Order from Amazon

Order at B&N


Follow Fred Kaplan on Twitter

Like Fred Kaplan on Facebook

Contact Fred Kaplan at

To book Fred Kaplan for a speaking engagement, contact:
Washington Speakers Bureau


Now in Paperback

The latest book from Fred Kaplan
New York Times Best-Selling Author
and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Praise for Fred Kaplan's The Bomb:

“With its stunning, new, in-the-room revelations, and with Fred Kaplan’s deep knowledge of nuclear strategy, The Bomb is the best overview yet of the world’s continuing struggle to come to terms with the threat of nuclear war.”
RICHARD RHODES, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Arsenals of Folly

“Bracing clarity…rich and surprisingly entertaining history of how nuclear weapons have shaped the United States military and the country’s foreign policy… Kaplan has a gift for elucidating abstract concepts, cutting through national security jargon and showing how leaders confront (or avoid) dilemmas.” JUSTIN VOGT, New York Times Book Review

“Excellent history of nuclear war and its long shadow…[described] with lucidity and a healthy dose of dark irony… Kaplan’s book is a timely reminder of the need to take a deep breath before thinking the unthinkable.”
EVAN THOMAS, Washington Post

The Bomb is a work that should make thoughtful readers even more thoughtful. But it is not a book for the faint of heart… The author is a punchy and sometimes even graceful stylist… The Bomb thus unfolds at a speedy pace…[and] a fantastical Dr. Strangelove-like quality… partly hilarious, partly outrageous… dramatic detail…often eye-popping.”
PAUL KENNEDY, Wall Street Journal

"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Fred Kaplan tells the fascinating, often surreal story of America's nuclear arsenal, the efforts by some U.S. presidents to de-escalate the arms race, and the gambles by others that brought us to the brink of nuclear war. 'The Bomb' is a compelling work of history.”
Christian Science Monitor

"Kaplan brings fresh detail and nuance to the most important narrative of our time.” Air Mail

“This masterful book…gripping, illuminating, and ultimately frightening…Kaplan brings to the task his expert command of the issues, a historian’s appreciation for the archives, and a journalist’s gift for lively, accessible writing and vivid shorytelling.” NINA TANNENWALD, Arms Control Today

“A detailed and fascinating history of a persistently interesting topic.” RONALD GRANIERI, Chronicles

“Kaplan is a leader in this field… Those who are relatively unfamiliar with the period will learn an enormous amount, and even experts will find nuggets, twists and turns, and important themes…. Fascinating and important.”

“Fascinating insights… Kaplan writes well, engaging the reader even when describing arcane bureaucratic battles.”

“Kaplan has done an admirable job of unraveling the minutiae and esoterica and writing a lucid, absorbing narrative…fine, impressively researched… A history of bureaucratic paperwork, it is nevertheless terrifying.”
HOWARD SCHEIDER, National Review

“Brilliantly chronicled.” JESSICA MATTHEWS, New York Review of Books

“In The Bomb, Fred Kaplan has delivered a timely, lively, highly readable account of how presidents from Truman to Trump have prepared for nuclear war—a history that is as deeply informed as it is utterly alarming.”
STEVE COLL, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars
and Directorate S

“With powerful anecdotes and a wealth of historical detail, Fred Kaplan tells the story of the men and women who found themselves both appalled and entranced by the fearful, mad logic of nuclear war from the aftermath of Hiroshima to the present day. The Bomb is a frightening but necessary read.”
ROSA BROOKS, author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

“Fred Kaplan is the world’s preeminent Dr. Strangelove whisperer, and The Bomb is the smartest, most riveting and up-to-date history of how US leaders, military and civilian, have thought the unthinkable. The chapter on Trump and nuclear weapons is nothing less than alarming.”
TIMOTHY NAFTALI, author of George H.W. Bush and coauthor of Khrushchev’s Cold War

"The Bomb is like the Pentagon Papers for U.S. nuclear strategy. Kaplan has the insider stories of an investigative journalist, the analytic rigor of a political scientist, and longer-term perspective of a historian. Insightful and important.”
SCOTT SAGAN, professor of political science, Stanford University; Chairman, American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Committee on International Security Studies

"One of the three best books ever written about nuclear weapons."
FRANK VON HIPPEL, Physics Professor, Princeton University

Editors' Choice
New York Times Book Review

“This can be dismal and dense stuff, but Kaplan’s narration is so brisk and keen that you speed through it.”

The Bomb offers an entertaining, detailed, behind-the-scenes look at how presidents, from Truman to Trump, and their advisers have grappled with nuclear weapons." The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

"The Bomb is both timely and classic, a joy to read, and rich in information.” Real Clear Defense

“Jaw-dropping.” GEORGE WILL, Washington Post

“Rich in detail...meticulous and frightening.” Associated Press

“An authoritative and highly readable history of the Damocles Sword that has hung over humanity for some 70 years.”
WALTER CLEMENS, New York Journal of Books

"If you loved Kaplan’s earlier work, The Wizards of Armageddon, or if you’re a history/international relations buff, this is the book for you." The Literary Hub

"A Best Book of the Week" Financial Times

"... a taut, detailed history ...well-written and compulsively readable ...that will keep military history and Cold War buffs up past their bedtime.” Library Journal

“Read The Bomb by Fred Kaplan! It is just an awesome book!" MALCOLM NANCE

"The origins and development of the theory of nuclear war are illuminated with new clarity in Fred Kaplan’s new book… And like many significant works of history, his book also casts new light on the present."

"The Bomb is a fascinating and sometimes harrowing look at how political and military leaders have grappled with Earth's most destructive force.” Shelf Awareness

“A detailed, incisive picture of how U.S. presidents have thought about their most troubling responsibility: pushing ‘the button’ that could end civilization…a comprehensive review… well-written, exhaustively researched”
KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review)


Click here to learn more>