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Armageddon and Paranoia: The Nuclear Confrontation: A Talk by Rodric Braithwaite

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Pushkin House welcomes Sir Rodric Braithwaite for a compelling talk on his book 'Armageddon and Paranoia', which is shortlisted for the 2018 Pushkin House Russian Book Prize. In 1945, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and warfare was never the same again. 'Armageddon and Paranoia' relates how the power of the atom was harnessed to produce weapons capable of destroying human civilisation and considers what this has done to the world.

There are few villains in this story: on both sides of the Iron Curtain, dedicated scientists cracked the secrets of nature, dutiful military men planned out possible manoeuvres and politicians wrestled with potentially intolerable decisions. Patriotic citizens acquiesced to the idea that their country needed the ultimate means of defence.

Some tried to grapple with the unanswerable question: what end could possibly be served by such fearsome means? Those who protested went unheard. None of them wanted to start a nuclear war, but all of them were paranoid about what the other side might do. The danger of annihilation by accident or misjudgement has not been entirely absent since. 

Praise for Armageddon and Paranoia

"A timely and sober book ... a trenchant and stimulating analysis of nuclear deterrence" - Observer

"A wise observer of how close we came to Armageddon" - Prospect

"Braithwaite ... is on top form." - Financial Times

"[A] fresh and invigorating take on the Cold War."- History Today

"Personal experience plus careful study have given him a remarkable platform from which he brilliantly dissects the ethical dilemmas." - Jonathan Steele, Guardian


Sir Rodric Braithwaite is a former British diplomat and author whose long Foreign Office career took him to Indonesia, Poland, Italy, America and Russia. He was British Ambassador in Moscow during the fall of the Soviet Union, which he described in Across the Moscow River (2002, Yale).

Signed copies of Armageddon and Paranoia will be available to buy after the talk. 

Read an exclusive Pushkin House Book Prize Q&A with Rodric Braithwaite discussing 'Armageddon and Paranoia' on our blog here