As belligerence between the US and North Korea grows, this is a timely and sober book. Written by a former ambassador to the USSR, it is a trenchant and stimulating analysis of nuclear deterrence as a reaction to a perceived threat (although the US long ago let the genie out of the bottle by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
Braithwaite sets out the scientific, social and political developments that led to an arms race, the legacy of that choice and how we manage it. He says maintaining the independent deterrent and the â€œspecialâ€ Anglo-American relationship determined our foreign policy for decades, â€œsometimes to the detriment of other British interestsâ€. He concludes by asking why it hasnâ€™t all ended with a bang â€“ perhaps because weâ€™ve just been â€œvery luckyâ€.
â€¢ Armageddon and Paranoia by Rodric Braithwaite is published by Profile Books (Â£25). To order a copy for Â£21.25 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over Â£10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of Â£1.99