European Diary

Devil's Mama

The rockets that, according to Khru­sh­­chev, were coming off his production line “like sausages” ran on kerosene and liquid oxygen.  So did Soviet foreign policy.  The kerosene was operational secrecy, an ingredient virtually unchanged since the 1920’s, whereby the regime concealed its expansionist aims.  The oxygen was maniacal braggadocio, which persuaded the West to see rockets where there was only cardboard and glue.

A new book that reassesses Khrushchev’s reign is pegged to the 50th anniversary of the explosion in Novaya Zemlya of “Devil’s Mama,” otherwise known as Device 602, equivalent to 57 million tons of TNT, compared with the 20,000 tons’ TNT equivalent that felled upward of 100,000 Japanese at Hiroshima.  On October 30, 1961, the shock wave from the blast of the device, weighing over 25 tons and dropped from a specially adapted TU-95, circled the globe thrice.  This was the most powerful nuclear blast and the biggest p.r. exercise in history.

As the book, entitled Devil’s Mama, has only been published in Russia, it is my privilege to mention it here.  Besides, of the more than 20 books written by Viktor Suvorov in the last 30 years, only four have appeared in English—the last of these, The Chief Culprit, received my frenzied plaudits in the April 2010 issue of this magazine—so it is unlikely that the English-speaking...

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