C3: Nuclear Command, Control, Cooperation
Written by former Strategic Rocket Forces officer Valery Yarynich, 2003’s C3 is an in-depth look at Cold War (and beyond) nuclear war command systems and their hazards. Although having access to then-secret info in Soviet times, Yarynich was no Viktor Suvorov and did not sensationalize (in fact, he provided one of the first detailed and level-headed descriptions of the infamous Perimetr/Dead Hand system). The result is one of the best nonfiction books on nuclear war that I’ve read.
As it is written by a former Soviet officer, you do get waves and waves of charts and equations that attempt to quantify something relating to military technology. But you also get lots of clear, simple explanations that make a layperson able to understand this well. In terms of everything from organizational charts to what the “nuclear briefcase” even is to why scissors were found to be a weak link in the command chain (seriously), it’s incredibly illuminating.
If you have any interest in nuclear war or command systems whatsoever, I highly recommend this book. I’ll also just say that it’s an excellent research resource…