Fail-Safe, by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler (Hutchinson I6s.).
THE elaborate precautions taken by the nuclear nations to prevent an accidental nuclear war prove one thingthat such an accident is theoretically possible.
In "Fail-Safe" the accident happens. A small condenser in a machine blows. The machine goes out of order. It happens to be one of the machines controlling the "Fail-Safe Activating Mechanisms" in America's nuclear bombers. When it fails, during a routine alert, one of the nuclear bomber wings does not receive the signal to come back from its attack on Moscow. Two of the six bombers reach Moscow, drbp their bombs and Moscow is wiped out.
While the planes are on their way, tension is mounting in the underground War Rooms under the Pentagon, the White House and in Strategic Command Headquarters in Omaha. Kennedy is on The red telephone to Khrushchev. The U.S. brasshats help the Russians to destroy some of the American bombers. And when Moscow is destroyed, President Kennedy, to convince Khrushchev that it was all an accident, orders New York to be obliterated with two similar 20-megaton bombs.
A gripping story, well told, and with an atmosphere of verisimilitude. Naturally, the U.S. bigwigs denied that the Fail-Safe system worked as described in the book. Naturally, they said that nothing like this could happen. Of course, it could not. And yet ... the doubt niggles. D.F.