The Day We Lost the H-Bomb

Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the Worst Nuclear Weapons Accident in History

In The Day We Lost the H-Bomb, science writer Barbara Moran marshals a wealth of new information and recently declassified material to give the definitive account of the Cold War’s biggest nuclear weapons disaster: the U.S. Air Force’s loss of four hydrogen bombs over the coast of Spain. On January 17, 1966, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber exploded over the sleepy Spanish farming village of Palomares during a routine airborne refueling. The explosion killed seven airmen and scattered the bomber’s payload—four unarmed thermonuclear bombs—across miles of coastline. The book tells the riveting true story of the nuclear buildup that led to this deadly accident, the far-reaching consequences of the crash, and the massive search for the missing bombs. The Day We Lost the H-Bomb is a singular work of military history that effortlessly and dramatically captures Cold War hysteria, high-stakes negotiations, and the race to clean up a disaster of unprecedented scope. At once epic and intimate, this book recounts in detail the fragile peace Americans had made with nuclear weapons—and how the specter of imminent doom forced the United States to consider not only what had happened over Spain, but what could have happened.