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Navy Nuclear Weapons Association

"Keepers of the Dragon"©™

reading list



Note:  The Navy  Nuclear Weapons Association provides this list as a service to our members.  The Navy Nuclear Weapons Association does not endorse these publications or the views of their authors. The below publications have been recommended by an NNWA member who is in good standing.




Recommended by and/or Comments

Adventures of An H-Bomb Mechanic: The Story of a Top Boomer

ISBN 09755358-1-1

Gabbard, Alex

 Larry S.

Not much in the way of talking about the rate.  More of a travelogue.  Most of the information on weapons is erroneous i.e.: the MK 28 did not have an SEP nor was it “Dial-A-Yield”, the MK 101 was an implosion weapon, not gun type. 

 Mike Snyder

Parochial writing with technical misinformation.  Travels and Ports of Call interesting for non-Navy readers.  Not recommended for professional sailors.

The Age of Radiance

ISBN-13: 978-1451660432

Nelson, Craig

Michael Snyder

It is a remarkable account which carries the reader from the discovery of radioactivity through nuclear weapons and nuclear power to today with the waning of nuclear energy.  It is well written, interesting, biographical of the important personages, semi-technical (enough to make you think), highly detailed, and highly referenced and sourced.  I recommend it to all who have the least interest in the nuclear age.

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Openheimer

ISBN 0-375-41202-6

Kai, Bird

and Sherwin, Martin J. 

Michael Snyder

Blue Jacket Admiral: The Naval Career of Chick Hayward

ISBN 1-55750-189-0

Hayward, John T.

and Borklund, C. W. 

Michael Snyder

Broken Arrow:  The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents

ISBN:  978-1-4357-0361-2.  

Maggelet, Michael H.

and Oskins, James C.

Don G. Boyer

These are both excellent books on the nuclear weapons programs, focusing on accidents and incidents from 1945 to about 2008 and are the culmination of years of painstaking research in the archives of the military and civilian agencies associated with nuclear weapons development, testing, and operations.  These two volumes took years to prepare because of the tooth-pulling Freedom of Information Act process it took to get hold of the relevant documents, and the data is backed up by excellent writing on the subject by two very experienced U.S. Air Force weaponeers.  The books are detailed, factual and make for very interesting reading for those of us who were in the program.  

These twp books are particularly important today as factual counterpoints to the idiotic anti-nuclear agenda of some "experts" who contend we fielded unsafe weapons for years, and came close to full scale nuclear accidents many times, which is, of course, patently false.

Privately printed, these volumes can be obtained by contacting Mr. Maggelet directly at mhmaggelet@hotmail.com.

Broken Arrow Vol. II:  A Disclosure of Significant U.S., Soviet and British Nuclear Weapons Incidents and Accidents, 1945 - 2008

ISBN:  978-0-557-65593-9

Maggelet, Michael H.

and Oskins, James C.

Brotherhood of Doom - Memoirs of a Navy Nuclearweaponsman

ISBN-13: 978-1601453112

Little, James, CWO4, USNRET

Ray C. Margeson

This book "...provides a look inside a national program that was shrouded in secrecy, during the cold War... details the dedication and patriotism of a small group of sailors that were denied much of the liberty and freedom their fellow citizens enjoyed to insure the survival of America in the event of a nuclear war."

Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

ISBN-13: 978-1250040466;X

Rhodes, Richard

Michael Snyder

Empire Rising

ISBN 0-684-80400-X


Campbell, Rick Michael Snyder

Rick Campbell has another hit looming on our horizon.  His latest novel, and second in the exciting series of international conspiracy and modern naval warfare, EMPIRE RISING, was released in February, 2015.  The NNWA was among the first to receive a review copy and I can tell you this novel far exceeds the publishers’ hype.  Set in a near-future era, EMPIRE RISING focuses on decades of Asiatic treachery and a government plot to eliminate the US Pacific Fleet while gaining control of the world oil supply and the international economy.  I’m reminded of the Japanese strategic posture prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor.  In addition to lots of sea time, the book has intrigue ashore, and a love interest woven into the plot.

The introduction to the story contains a helpful list of principal characters, amplified into a total-list addendum, essentially an order of battle, at the back.  The action is suspenseful and believable with potential technical minutiae smoothed-out for enjoyable reading.  The story tempo is fast, continuous, and sensational.  Campbell effectively employs many, short chapters to quickly move from one complementary scene to another.  The technique is highly reminiscent of recent, multi-faceted television drama mini-series.  Beware however, this technique and Rick’s writing is not conducive to a good night’s sleep!  EMPIRE RISING is impossible to put down!  I thoroughly enjoyed EMPIRE RISING and emphatically recommend it to you!

Rick was kind enough to donate two copies of EMPIRE RISING to the NNWA.  One will go into our archives along with other members’ writings and memoirs.  The second, signed by the author will be given to one of our members as a Door Prize at the October reunion in San Antonio
Ice Station Nautilus

ISBN-13: 978-1250072153

Campbell, Rick

This year, as in 2014 and 2015, NNWA member Rick Campbell produced a new naval thriller; this one entitled “Ice Station Nautilus”.  His previous efforts; “The Trident Deception”, and “Empire Rising” were cited by professional reviewers as exciting as “The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy.  I think his latest offering; “Ice Station Nautilus” is equal, if not superior to, his previous novels.  I was provided an advanced, uncorrected proof copy to read and review for you.  The final release is expected in June or July.  I completely enjoyed the reading experience and spent several late nights racing through the chapters.  As in the past, Rick has promised to provide two copies of the first release to the NNWA; one for our memorabilia library and a second as a door prize to be awarded at the dinner dance of our Indianapolis reunion.  For your interest and pleasure I present my thoughts upon reading “Ice Station Nautilus”.

Mike Snyder

Sometime in the near future old rivals with deeply held animosities clash at the top of the world.  Reminiscent of naval experiences in the second half of the twentieth century, the new Russian Navy, driven by misguided motives, challenges American sea power and American skills in a lethal game of submarine cat and mouse. 

Beneath the ice submarines clash in encounters that can only lead to catastrophe.  On the ice island above, Russian and American Special Forces battle for control of Ice Station Nautilus with its prize of advanced technology.

In the midst of the confusion and life-threatening action we again find National Security Advisor Christine O’Connor and Senior Military Aide Capt. Steve Brackman, USN whom we know from Campbell’s previous novels; “The Trident Deception”, and “Empire Rising”.  Their wit, guile, and courage are challenged to the breaking point with unforeseen results.

“Ice Station Nautilus” is a taut story laced with technology at once fantastic and believable.  Ricks’ use of staccato transitions from one chapter and sub-chapter to the next heightens the reader’s apprehensions and demands you rush onward to relieve the growing tension.  “Ice Station Nautilus” is exciting, spellbinding, and difficult to put down.  I strongly recommend it to you for a tense summer thriller.

The Making of The Atomic Bomb

ISBN 0-671-44133-7

Rhodes, Richard

Michael Snyder


The Navy I Remember

ISBN 13: 9780738859224

Danklefsen, Ralph, CWO, USN

Richard Linkroum, former Director of Programs for NBC.

Ralph Danklefsen, Chief Warrant officer, USN (Ret) joined the Navy in 1931 with his Naval career ending in 1957.  The years he focuses on are not only the war years; he recalls fading images of the peacetime Navy of the twenties and thirties, the days of four-pipe destroyers, steam driven ships, and station duty in the Asiatic Fleet.  His book is funny, cheerful, exciting in a dead-pan way, and authentic.  Ralph writes from a vivid memory in a sailor’s dialect that sounds realistic even to those of us who weren’t there.  When Ralph sits down at his word processor, he just naturally slips into sailor talk - - and a smart editor let it be. 

Mike Snyder

This book is an easy-reading and interesting recollection of the years between the wars through WWII and Korea that recounts what it was like in the “Old Navy”.  Simply reading the table of contents is an adventure in itself with its’ listing of fourteen ships and shore stations.  I remember reading of his escape from Tsingtao, China on the last US Navy ship to leave the port before the Japanese occupation.  His history extends from horse-drawn wagons to nuclear weapons and sophisticated aircraft.  This is a book for all sailors to read. 

Nuclear Weapons And Aircraft Carriers: How The Bomb Saved Naval Aviation

ISBN-13: 978-1-56098-944-8

Miller, Jerry

Michael Snyder

The U.S. Navy entered World War II with seven aircraft carriers and finished the war with nearly one hundred. However, with the advent of the atomic bomb in 1945 and its impact on strategic thinking, the future of naval aviation looked bleak. Rapid demobilization after the war eliminated many carriers, and most policy makers believed that future wars would be fought with nuclear weapons delivered by land-based aircraft, a method patented by the new U.S. Air Force.

During the so-called "Revolt of the Admirals," respected naval leaders lobbied for the Navy's role in the new era. Arthur Radford and Arleigh Burke, who eventually became the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of naval operations respectively, as well as Chief of Naval Operations Louis E. Denfeld risked their careers to speak out in support of enabling aircraft carriers to transport, target, and deliver nuclear weapons. In Nuclear Weapons and Aircraft Carriers, Jerry Miller traces this struggle, which also involved serious conflicts with the Air Force and ultimately led to innovations in the design and engineering of carriers and aircraft.

Nuclear Weapons of The United States, An Illustrated History

ISBN 0-7643-0063-6

Gibson, James N

Michael Snyder


ISBN:  0-9703666-0-4

Tibbets, Paul W.

John Hawkins

Chapter 1 - Strange Destiny First Paragraph:  “From the pilot’s seat of my airplane, I saw the city shimmering 6 miles below in the bright sunlight of an August morning.  Suddenly, there was a blinding flash beside which the sun grew dim.  In a millionth of a second, the shimmering city became an ugly smudge.”

His early airplane days started in Florida where he first real airplane experience was as a bombardier to his pilot Doug Davis.  Davis had the contract with the Curtis Candy Company to “distribute” Baby Ruth Candy bars throughout the region.  They did this by throwing them out of the plane over such places as the beach and sporting events around Hialeah Florida. 

Later on the experiences as a Second Lieutenant working with Lt Colonel George Patton who was in charge of Tank Training at Fort Benning Georgia. 

His experiences during the Second World war in Europe and North Africa marking Mr. Tibbets as the man who would be picked for the most important mission the world would know. 

The recruiting of his flight crew is an interesting read and also the treatment of the crew as “glory boys”.  All because no one knew exactly what was going on and why were they so special.  The way they handled security violators was novel in its own way also. 

The entire book kept me captivated and I personally found it very interesting.

Taking A-Bombs To Sea

No assigned ISBN

Ramage, James D. RADM, USN

Michael Snyder

Article, Naval History Vol. 9 Number 1.  United States Naval Institute, 1995

Target Hiroshima: Deak Parsons and The Creation of The Atomic Bomb

ISBN-10: 1557501203

Christman, Al

Michael Snyder

Trident Deception

ISBN: 1-250-06127-X / 978-1-250-06127-0

Campbell, Rick Dave Hood

Dusty Rhodes made mention of this techno-thriller in an email chain about firearms goofs in books, TV shows and movies.  He said that he enjoyed the book but found one HUGE mistake about the current US service pistol.  In his 1st edition, reference is made of how one character laments the retirement of the Colt 45 in favor of the current Llama 9mm.  The explanation for the retirement was the Colt’s propensity to jam.  Dusty said that he had a conversation with the author, a retired Commander bubblehead (to you landlubbers that means he was a submarine sailor), and pointed out said errors.  The author told Dusty that he will get the errors fixed in time for the paperback edition.  Mr. Campbell went on to tell Dusty that he learned that factoid from “a navy captain doing inspections on the boats.”

Oh, boy.

Let me tell you a bit about the book and then we will delve into the faux pas in question.  Don’t get too worried about me spoiling the book for you.  Most of what I am going to tell you is on the novel’s back jacket.

Iran is going to go nuclear in a few days.  Israel has asked for US help in destroying the Iranian nuclear assembly area.  America declines.  Soon after, the USS KENTUCKY, an Ohio-class missile boat, receives an authenticated launch authorization from the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon.  The orders are to fire all of her 24 Trident D-5 missiles, all with eight warheads each, at various targets in Iran.  After receiving the order, the KENTUCKY goes radio silent.

And Washington DC goes ape-shit. 

Leading the investigation into what happened, and the plan on preventing the KENTUCKY from destroying Iran, is the National Security Advisor, Christine O’Conner.  Naturally, she’s described as being ultra-hot.

So let’s skip forward four hundred and twenty three paperback pages.  The CO of the KENTUCK has brought the ship to BATTLE STATIONS MISSILE.  The skipper has reservations that his crew will carry out the launch order so he orders the COB- Chief Of the Boat - to arm himself with a weapon drawn from the ship’s armory.  “Perusing the assortment of weapons in the small arms locker, he selected a 9mm Beretta semiautomatic pistol.  The rifles and shotguns were meant for topside watches and would be unwieldy in the submarine’s confined spaces.  As he counted the number of rounds in the magazine, he wished they still had the Colt 45 handgun. The 45 had been abandoned in favor of the 9mm due to the propensity for the Colt’s first round to jam.  But (Master Chief Petty Officer) Prashaw believed the Colt would have proved valuable today.  The first round jamming would have given both parties a final opportunity to reconsider their actions.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Oscar?

Let’s get super nitpicky.  First, it’s “Colt .45”, as in Colt DECIMAL 45.  As in a unit of measure.  Specifically, the bore diameter of the pistol’s barrel is forty-five hundredths of an inch.  English speaking nations liked to measure caliber in inches.  The foreign language speakers like to measure bore diameter in millimeters.  Secondly, a Colt DECIMAL 45 could also be the classic revolver as seen in thousands of western movies.  No, the author was not alluding to the Colt Single Action Army M 1873 “Peacemaker” revolver in caliber .45 Colt. What the author meant was the M1911A1 semiautomatic .45 ACP pistol, as made by Colt, Remington Rand, Ithaca Gun Company, Singer Sewing Machine and Union Switch and Signal.  (While the performance of the cartridges .45 Colt and .45 ACP are roughly equal, they are NOT interchangeable.)


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