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"One of the best books I ever read" - 13 year old son. Mr. Sheinken has an uncanny ability to tell stories that mesmerize young adult readers, a rare ability/superpower in a world of digital distractions.
Reviewed in the United States on September 12, 2021
“Fallout” by Steve Sheinkin
You could call “Fallout” a sequel to Sheikin’s great book, “Bomb”, published in 2012. In “Fallout” Sheinkin writes about an amazing collection of the events leading up to and including the Cuban missile crisis. Much has been written about the subject but this book succinctly tells the story of the tumultuous events of the 50’s and 60’s that brought the world to the brink of total devastation.
“Fallout” is a quick read that seems more like a thriller novel but the reader never loses track of the grim reality that the world faced in 1962. The reader will hear how the bomb, the H bomb, spies, the space race, U2 spy planes, nuclear armed russian subs, and missiles in Cuba that were literally minutes away from being armed with devastating nuclear warheads all came together to nearly bring human civilization to its knees. Adding to all of this are stories of how incredible mishandling and incredible luck also played huge roles in this incredible story.
So much ground is covered, yet Sheinkin does not linger too long on any event. The writing is to the point, yet covers these events sufficiently. The book never becomes bogged down which left me waiting to see what might be revealed on the next page. It's a real page turner!
Five stars! This is a great book.
Thanks to NetGalley, I received an Advanced Reader Copy ARC in exchange for this honest review
Reviewed in the United States on September 27, 2021
Once again, Steve Sheinkin examines a complex topic and makes it clear, concise, and cogent with his thoroughly researched and documented narrative nonfiction. His latest book follows in the spirit of his award-winning Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Fallout examines the development of the hydrogen bomb and the arms race that followed, culminating with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Early chapters explain Nikita Khrushchev’s rise to power and Cold War espionage efforts by both the USSR and the USA. Soviet spy Rudolph Abel and American U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers are examined in some depth, chronicling the eventual capture and conviction of the two, and the 1962 exchange of the two by the two world powers in Berlin. The importance of the divided city of Berlin in the Cold War is stressed, and Sheinkin introduces readers to a little-known hero: Harry Seidel, a former bicycle racer who risked his life to assist hundreds of East Berliners to escape across the Berlin Wall to freedom in the West. Closing chapters closely document the escalation of tension and fear that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the battle of wills between the wily Khrushchev and the young American president, John F. Kennedy. Sheinkin’s attention to small details and liberal use of quotes brings the characters and events to life and will engage both middle grade readers and adults in what may well have been the most dangerous conflict in the history of mankind. This outstanding work is a must purchase for both public and school libraries.
Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2021
In Fallout: Spies, Superbombs and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown, author Steve Sheinkin tells the story of the early years of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. I typically choose to read long dense non-fiction books for the purpose of learning something new about an historical era. Since I have read extensively on the Cold War and lived through the era I did not read this book to learn something new. Instead, I read it specifically to see how Sheinkin would handle these scary times.
Sheinkin is a master at telling a complex story in a highly accessible manner. His books are aimed at young readers. But they are also great for readers of any level seeking a concise, suspenseful and well written explanation of the covered events. I have been a fan of Sheinkin’s ever since reading his book entitled Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Viet Nam War in which he tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg’s disclosure of the Pentagon Papers.
In Fallout Sheinkin does not disappoint. The early Cold War years were defined by the threat of nuclear war and world annihilation. Sheinkin weaves his action-packed narrative through spies, politicians and military leaders to show all of the circumstances that could have led to the end of the world as we know it. He included everything that made the early Cold War era terrifying, including Nikita Khrushchev’s promise to “bury” us, the downing of Gary Powers’ U-2 spy plane over Russia, the fear of radiation poisoning from atmospheric nuclear weapon testing, the preparation of bomb shelters, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and, finally, the Russians attempt to install nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba.
Sheinkin has written more than an excellent history of the early years of the Cold War. He has managed to take the reader back in time and to make them feel what it was like to live in a world in which nuclear war was a real threat. I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend it, especially for young readers who want to know what life was like for their parents and grandparents while they were growing up in a world that seemed to be on the brink of the final World War.
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2021
It's rare to find a well-researched YA nonfiction book that is written so compellingly that it reads like a novel, without resorting to fictionalization. That's what Sheinkin does masterfully in Fallout. Obviously, I knew the end of the story. There's no spoiler in saying that the Cuban Missile Crisis didn't start World War III. But I still found myself wanting to know what would happen in each new chapter. Highly recommended not only for YA readers, but for others like me who were only toddlers when the crisis happened and who want to know about history that happened in our lifetimes.
I have been a Sheinkin fan for many years and this one did not disappoint. In fact, could it be his best yet? Maybe...He has a way of hooking you from the beginning (a paperboy, a coin, a code) and then bringing you back in a time that many people still remember. Honestly, I couldn't put it down. Putin, Kennedy, spies, mystery, fallout shelters...I recommended to my mom who loved it and now my husband is reading it. It's really a book that generations can enjoy and then discuss. "What was it like for you when...?" "Where were you when...?" "Do you remember when...?" It's really a great discussion starter book. Read it in advance of Thanksgiving and you'll have a lot to chat about around your table!