TWO MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT: 1953 The Year of Living Dangerously

Book number: 92146 Product format: Hardback Author: ROGER HERMISTON

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Bibliophile price £5.00
Published price £20

'For far too long, 1953 has been thought of as a monochrome year; just another twelve months in the boring 1950s. Now Roger Hermiston explodes that theory by showing it all in all its most vivid colours. His is a gripping account of the death of Stalin, the discovery of DNA, Winston Churchill's stroke, Dwight Eisenhower's presidency and so much more will stay with readers long after they finish the last page...' - Andrew Roberts. January 1953 and it is eight years on from the most destructive conflict in human history, and the Cold War has entered its most deadly phase. An Iron Curtain has descended across Europe, hostilities between the US and the Soviet Union have turned hot on the Korean peninsula as the two powers clash in an intractable and bloody proxy war. Meanwhile the pace of the nuclear arms race has become frenetic. The Soviet Union has finally tested its own atom bomb, as has Britain, and now in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the United States has detonated its first thermos-nuclear device, dwarfing the destruction unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WW2. For the first time, the Doomsday Clock is set at two minutes to midnight, with the chances of a man-made global apocalypse becoming increasingly likely. As the Cold War powers square up in political and military battles around the globe, every city has become a potential battleground and every citizen a target. 1953 is set to be a year of living dangerously. We read eagerly about the discovery by the brilliant young scientists Francis Crick and Chicago born colleague James Watson unravelling the double helix molecular structure of DNA, the young Elvis performing his unique blend of African-American blues, Christian gospel and country music with his unique gyrating hips, the Match of the Century between home side England, the inventors of football, and Hungary, the mystery men from behind the Iron Curtain who were the finest team in the world at the time, and sugar and sweets are finally freed from controls in Britain that year. Films and magazines informed us that for most young American couples an affordable, attractive home equipped with gleaming gadgets was within reach as the new American urban middle class developed and a rising tide of affluence which excluded black people in the South with segregation. There was talk of the abolition of the death penalty in the UK and it was a time of capitalism versus communism, supposed freedom versus assumed tyranny. Mistrust had deepened, political uncertainties abounded, and nuclear arsenals had mushroomed, shaped by an event way out in the Pacific Ocean in November 1952 with the largest explosion in the history of the planet. Written by the assistant editor of BBC Radio 4's Today Programme 1998-2010. 446pp.

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ISBN 9781785906541

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