Bodley Head takes nuclear option

Rights - NonFiction Wednesday, 12 June 2019

History of the nuclear home front, Attack Warning Red by Julie McDowall, signed by Stuart Williams after auction


Williams has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights in Julie McDowall's history of the nuclear home front, Attack Warning Red, from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit UK, after a three-way auction.

According to the acquisition statement: 'There have been many books about the political, military and scientific aspects of nuclear war, but Attack Warning Red will be the first about the domestic and civilian: about how it affected the day-to-day lives of ordinary people in Britain, from the late 1940s to the end of the Cold War.

'McDowall will write about the tens of thousands who volunteered in organisations like the Royal Observer Corps, the ideological battle over the ethics of the bomb, the grim and often darkly funny practicalities of preparing for conflict; how vicars and pub landlords with hand-cranked sirens would be expected to deliver the Four Minute Warning; how TV docu-dramas like Threads and The War Game brought the terror home; and how organisations like the BBC and the NHS were roped in to do their part.'

Williams said: "Julie McDowall is a captivating, irreverent, ever-curious guide in this extraordinary landscape. Attack Warning Red might be a gripping history of something that ultimately didn’t happen but is no less viscerally real for that, or revealing of who we are."

McDowall said: "I'm delighted to be working with Bodley Head on this book which will bring forth all the strange charm, quiet horror and eerie eccentricity of the way the British prepared for nuclear war."

The author is a journalist who writes about nuclear history for The Times, The Guardian, the TLS, The Irish Times, The Spectator, and The Economist. She also reviews prolifically, and hosts her own podcast on the preparations for nuclear conflict, called The Atomic Hobo.

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