Britain and the Bomb: the New Statesman papers on defence and disarmament

A valuable addition to the study of the Cold War and Britain’s place in it is in the 1980 book “Britain and the bomb the New Statesman papers on defence and disarmament” edited by EP Thompson.

This collection of articles from The New Statesman was written at fascinating and tense period of the Cold War; the USSR had invaded Afghanistan, NATO had decided to base Cruise and Pershing Missiles in Europe and Britain had committed itself to developing the Trident ballistic missile carrying submarine system.

This backdrop of events provided the source for numerous articles by many writers including EP Thompson, Christopher Hitchens, Duncan Campbell and Robin Cook. Hitchens looks at the British government’s nuclear war “survival guide” “Protect and Survive” and neatly fillets the whole notion of surviving nuclear attack. Duncan Campbell exposes Britain’s plans for governing during a nuclear war, how it would control internal dissent, the numbers of bases that would become targets and the culture of secrecy around home defence (that both he and John Pilger would later examine in Secret Society and The Truth Game respectfully).

Now long out of print this little book is an invaluable addition to Cold War studies, particular from Britain’s point of view. This was a very turbulent time in bringing medium range nuclear weapons to Europe and public concern and opposition to it. Highly recommended.