cover image Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Shutdown

Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Shutdown

Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook, $19.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-14901-5

This twisty spy story interweaves tautly paced political drama to document the perilous Cold War period and escalating conflict between the United States and Soviet Union. Newbery Honoree Sheinkin immediately hooks readers with an account of how a 1953 chance exchange of two hollow coins with film hidden inside tipped the CIA off to a Soviet spy ring; eventually, the lens extends to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the standoff between U.S. president John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. In addition to spies and political machinations, Sheinkin skillfully describes the science behind the race to develop fission bombs and conquer space, the nuclear threat and mutually assured destruction, and how the fear and classroom drills infused everyday life. Throughout, the highly charged narrative maintains a strong perspective and keen attention to detail, rounding out the figures involved—such as the American pilot Gary Powers, who flew U-2 jets to spy on Russia—with character and personality. The midsection can sometimes lag as it details the intricate chess game between Kennedy and Khrushchev, but b&w photographs heighten the tension in this dramatic and informative chronicle. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)