Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown

Roaring Brook. Sept. 2021. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250149015.
Gr 6 Up–Sheinkin delivers another heart-pounding tale, picking up where his 2012 award-winning book Bomb left off: the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War. The story opens in 1953, with Jimmy Bozart, the 13-year old paperboy who discovered a hollow nickel dropped by Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, a key early player in the series of conflicts that would lead up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. In tightly organized chapters adorned with historical photos, Sheinkin seamlessly weaves the stories of different players and includes meticulously well-researched details to personalize and humanize his subjects. Key events from the Cold War are dramatized in detailed scenes, including the inception of the arms race between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., the capture of U2 pilot Francis Powers, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the building of the Berlin Wall. While Sheinkin examines up close the spies, ordinary citizens, scientists, and world leaders—including Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Khrushchev—who put events into motion, he simultaneously considers the bigger picture, not making outright villains or heroes of either side, except perhaps Soviet commander Vasily Arkhipov, who prevented a nuclear submarine strike during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Sheinkin concludes with just how close the world came to catastrophe, and urges readers not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Teens who love history such as Marc Favreau’s Spies and historical fiction like Jennifer Nielsen’s A Night Divided won’t be able to put this one down.
VERDICT A first purchase for all teen collections.

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