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  • Published: 26 March 2024
  • ISBN: 9781911709602
  • Imprint: Torva
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $36.99

Nuclear War

A Scenario

We could have an uninhabitable earth in a century. It could take 26 minutes and 40 seconds. An edge-of-your-seat non-fiction thriller that has to be read to be believed.

Up to now, no one outside of official circles has known exactly what would happen if a rogue state launched a nuclear missile at the Pentagon. Second by second and minute by minute, these are the real-life protocols that choreograph the end of civilisation as we know it. Frantic calls over secure lines work to confirm the worst as armoured helicopters are scrambled to evacuate the chosen few to secure bunkers. One nuclear missile will provoke two dozen in return. Decisions over hundreds of millions of lives need to be made within six minutes, based on partial information, knowing that once launched, nothing is capable of halting the destruction.

Based on dozens of new interviews with military and civilian experts, Nuclear War is at once a compulsive non-fiction thriller and a powerful argument that we must rid ourselves of these world-ending weapons for ever.

  • Published: 26 March 2024
  • ISBN: 9781911709602
  • Imprint: Torva
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $36.99

About the author

Annie Jacobsen

Annie Jacobsen is a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of Area 51, Operation Paperclip, Surprise, Kill, Vanish and others. Her books have been translated into nine languages. She also writes and produces TV, including Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan. A graduate of Princeton University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two sons.

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Praise for Nuclear War

What readers are saying about Nuclear War: 'At times I felt as if I was reading fiction and had to keep reminding myself that it's fact' 'It reads like a thriller... a brilliant read and impressive feat of research and storytelling' 'This book is a must-read for anyone who thinks nuclear weapons are the problem of a bygone era' 'Exceptionally well researched, the author’s sources are impeccable, ably supported by technical information... a hugely powerful, sobering and compelling read' 'Clearly very well researched and well sourced. 10/10' 'A hugely informative piece of work that gives an enlightening insight into the world we live in today'

NetGalley reader reviews

Books like Annie Jacobsen’s gripping Nuclear War: A Scenario are essential if you want to understand the complex and disturbing details that go into a civilization-destroying decision to drop the Bomb on an enemy.

Barry Gewen, The New York Times

A stomach-clenching, multi-perspective, ticking-clock, geopolitical thriller rooted in the seeds of our own destruction, planted nearly 80 years ago at the Trinity test site by the scientists of the Manhattan Project who brazenly dared to rip the building blocks of our universe apart... I couldn’t put the thing down, feverishly turning page after page until I finished it on the plane ride home... Nuclear War: A Scenario should be required reading for everyone alive today.


Based on hundreds of interviews with many retired security officials and more-or-less declassified information in the public domain, what it captures brilliantly is the emotional chaos into which leaders would be plunged in such a situation.... These are scenes straight out of Dr Strangelove.


At once methodical and vivid. In documenting the minutiae of the apocalypse, the writing is redolent of 'Hiroshima', a seminal article by John Hersey published in the New Yorker in 1946.

The Economist

Jacobsen seeks to break through jargon and details in order to tell a terrifying story in a devastatingly straightforward way.


This terrifying book is a must-read for every world leader.

Mother Jones

In Nuclear War: A Scenario, Annie Jacobsen, gives us a vivid picture of what could happen if our nuclear guardians fail…Terrifying.

Wall Street Journal

Extraordinary... Her book delivers more detail than has been available to the public before... Terrifying.

New Scientist

A vivid account... Jacobsen lucidly lays out complex information, based on well-referenced research and interviews with credible experts... The current global arrangements for managing risk and preventing cataclysm cannot be taken for granted.

Times Literary Supplement

Using hard data from top military, government, and scientific sources, and brilliantly weaving in historical facts and technical data, Annie Jacobsen masterfully explains the nuclear issue in riveting story form, turning her readers into experts on the one issue that must concern us all. I guarantee that even the most knowledgeable readers will learn something, if not a lot. Everyone, especially politicians and heads of state, must read this important and very timely book. I cannot recommend it enough.

Carlos Umaña, co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Nobel Peace Prize laureate

In a horrific minute-by-minute overview, Jacobsen brings to life the insane and impossible pressures heaped on decision-makers - and the doomsday ending for humanity. Maybe we all need to learn to start worrying about the bomb.

Lee Cain, City AM

Not one to read if you have trouble sleeping.

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times