I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A young scientist working to prevent nuclear war must face a wrathful DOJ and fight against trumped-up espionage charges in author Thomas J. Peggy’s “Mushroom Cloud”, the first in the author’s First Strike Series.
For a decade, Dr. Caleb Young, a gifted physicist and chief science officer for the CIA, had shaded National Intelligence Estimates and Rand reports on war gaming. He wanted to thwart the US military’s push for a nuclear first strike. Soviet GRU Colonel Oleg Penkovsky had passed information to Young at more than one Pugwash Peace Conference, revealing how inept Soviet capabilities were. A US preemptive strike would destroy the earth’s ozone layer.
Dr. Young, secretly an Einstein schooled pacifist, felt a personal obligation to prevent a globally destructive nuclear war. However, the realities of US nuclear superiority were progressively becoming harder to manage. By mid-1953, the United States had 1,169 deliverable atomic bombs. It could drop them with 160 B-36 heavy bombers and 350 B-47 medium bombers. The Soviet Union had 120 atomic bombs that could only be delivered to the US by a handful of one-way TU-4A experimental bombers through thousands of F-86 Sabres. By 1962, the US had more than 3,000 thermonuclear warheads and 5,000 tactical nuclear weapons. U-2 flights and Corona satellite images were exposing Khrushchev’s lies about “grinding out missiles like sausages.” The US had a 17-1 advantage in deliverable warheads.
The Soviets intercontinental ballistic missiles (only four were verified) took four hours to prepare for launch. US B-52s twos could easily destroy them from fail- safe points with a pair of 20 megaton bombs. Even more ominously, the Thor and Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missiles could deliver warheads in less than 8 minutes after launch from England, Turkey, or Italy. The US could locate and destroy the Soviets’ 150 round- trip bombers before they left Soviet runways. Soviet SSBN subs were noisy and had to surface to fire missiles. They were easy prey for the US Navy. In late October 1962, President John F Kennedy stopped the US military from initiating a first strike. It came to be known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” “We lost” Air Force general Curtis Lemay shouted at Kennedy. Military leaders wanted a nuclear war that day while they had a clear first strike advantage.
Now the Department of Justice (DOJ) has many questions, and they believe Dr. Caleb Young has the answers. Nicholas Katzenbach, the DOJ’s chief deputy, is ready to prosecute Dr. Young on trumped up espionage charges. And he wants to know about the CIA’s involvement in the November 22, 1963, assassination of President Kennedy
This was a compelling and captivating read. The blend of almost spy thriller tactics with historical fiction and government intrigue made the story feel larger than life, and the powerful imagery brought the horrors and terror of the Cold War and nuclear war as a whole made this a truly atmospheric read.
The heart of the narrative was in the history and the character growth of the story. The struggle that Caleb went through will play well with fans of the recently released film Oppenheimer, as the character struggles with his role in the development of nuclear warheads and the journey of redemption he finds himself on made this story so compelling, and the amount of detail the author was able to put into the story from a historical standpoint made the story shine with realism and heart.
Thrilling, enthralling, and chilling, author Thomas J. Yeggy’s “Mushroom Cloud” is a must-read historical fiction thriller and a great entry into the First Strike series. The twists and turns in the character development and the heart-pounding moments that keep the protagonist on his toes constantly will keep readers drawn back into the story more and more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Author
Thomas J. Yeggy, a University of Iowa Law graduate, practiced law in Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. As a mental health judge Thomas served for 25+ years, where he developed a deep understanding of life’s challenges. Authoring more than 1,500 opinions with minimal reversals, he served diligently.
Yeggy, a licensed Series 7 broker, explored nuclear weapons’ control after witnessing Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s devastation. Prompted by McNamara’s remark on the Cuban Missile Crisis, he delves into our fortunate survival in the First Strike series. Currently residing in Pensacola Beach, Florida, with his wife Eileen, he enjoys summers with grandkids Jeff and Ashley Brown. Find them at Emeis Park, Davenport, with granddogs Otis and Emme.