Ever since the US-led Manhattan Project yielded the first atomic weapons at the end of the Second World War, people all over the world have been obsessed with the threats of their utilisation. The fears of atomic weapons thrived during the Cold War. Presently, such fears are heightened the proliferation of nuclear arms to so-called ‘rough states' occurs and the nightmare of a potential nuclear attack by an international terrorist organisation becomes more likely. But are these threats real? In his book Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda John Mueller sets out on the quest to put all these obsessive fears under a thoughtful examination. Mueller finds that such fears are not only baseless, but he also argues that the endeavour to protect against such nonexistent threats have been in many cases counterproductive. Mueller lays down his arguments with his eloquent wit aiming at the mainstream dogmatism of the nuclear alarmists. The book, and particularly the encompassing extensive footnoting, also abundantly summarises relevant information connected to the topic and the related issues ranging from the field of the political science to the technical explanations of the effects of nuclear weapons. Although some of Mueller's theses may be seen as provocative, the book provides an important eye-opening alternative view on this important issue. In the first part of the book, Mueller argues that the effect of nuclear weapons and their impact on history have always been exaggerated. Mueller begins his book with a brief description of different effects of a nuclear explosion and thus allows his readers to acquire more realistic apprehensions of the destructive power of nuclear weapons. Mueller for example asserts that a Hiroshima-size bomb would be able to destroy only about 1 percent of the New York City area. Mueller further tries to adjust the overstatements regarding the potential political and social impacts of a single atomic terrorist attack on the United States. Mueller suggests that such an event, although possibly very tragic, would cause neither the society nor the economy to cease to exist. The arguments for this assurance Mueller finds in the analogy with the viable reactions of the United States citizens to the 9/11 events or of Israeli citizens to the continual terrorism in their country. In this way, Mueller does not need to lead a polemic regarding the influence of an imaginary single atomic attack on the global markets, the influx of investments or global migration. The broad attention of the first part of the book is subsequently given also to the evaluation of nuclear weapons' influence on history. Mueller suggests that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing was not the main reason for Japan's surrender at the end of the Second World War, but it was rather the Soviet Union's declaration of war and Japan's fear of the Soviet Union's anticipated occupation of the northern part of Japan. Neither, Mueller argues, were nuclear weapons necessary to deter an open military collision between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as there were the other sufficient reasons, like the vivid memory of the Second World War and the overall contentment of the superpowers with the post-war status quo, that would also have separately prevented a global conflict. World history was thus influenced by nuclear weapons only modestly. Despite this, Mueller points out, the development of nuclear weapons and the build-up of nuclear arsenals demanded vast defence expenditures. In the second part of the book readers are presented with an examination of the threats connected to the spread of nuclear weapons. This subject matter is dealt with from the perspective of the so-called vertical proliferation (i.e. the build-up of the nuclear arsenals in countries that already have nuclear weapons) and also from the perspective of the so-called horizontal proliferation (i.e. the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries). The chapter devoted to vertical proliferation begins with a brief summary of the arms control treaties concluded between the superpowers in the course of the Cold War. Mueller points out that the superpowers tended to enhance their armament efforts in order to obtain a bargaining advantage in the arms control negotiations. The negotiations thus lead to adverse effect that even more impelled the arms race. Mueller, in this connection, refers to the example of the warship disarmament on the Great Lakes between the United States and Canada in the 19th century. The smoothest disarmament there was achieved in the 1870s without any formal agreement. In contrast to this, the previous conclusion of the warship limitation agreement in 1817 did not have much success. Mueller concludes that the swiftest arms reduction occurs when each side keeps the possibility to reverse any reduction in the future. This is followed by one of the most interesting parts of the book, which is concerned with recent threats connected to horizontal proliferation. Mueller notes that many countries decided not to develop nuclear weapons simply because it is an enormous waste of financial resources and scientific talents. Mueller analyses the advantages arising from the acquisition of nuclear weapons and finds them very limited. The limited military value of nuclear weapons is, for example, documented by the Falklands War, in which Argentina was not deterred by the nuclear arsenal of the United Kingdom from invading Falklands in 1982. Mueller also stresses that even the extensive nuclear arsenal of the United States was of no help in conflicts in Korea, Vietnam or Iraq. Mueller then turns readers' attention to the anti-proliferation campaign and its impacts. Several short case studies describe the situation in countries like South Africa, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan that decided to abandon their nuclear arsenals. The book subsequently analyses the costs of the proliferation fixation in Iraq and North Korea. Mueller examines the destructive effect of the sanctions imposed on those two countries as part of the anti-proliferation campaign and emphasises that the sanctions claimed a great number of human lives. Mueller also evaluates the likelihood that any of those countries would actually use atomic weapons in a successful attack and finds it for many reasons improbable. Based on those arguments, Mueller calls for a calmer anti-proliferation policy. The third and final part of the book examines the likelihood of an occurrence of an atomic terrorist attack. Three possibilities of the international terrorism are analysed: i) the acquisition of a finished nuclear bomb from a state, ii) the theft of a finished nuclear bomb and iii) the construction of an atomic bomb independently by an international terrorist group. Mueller finds strong arguments for ruling out the first two possibilities. The third possibility is then put through a full-range examination covering the necessary provisions of fissile material, the construction of an atomic device and its transportation and detonation. Mueller concludes that such attempts would be very costly and almost impossible to hide. The likelihood of a construction of a workable atomic device and its successful detonation by terrorists is thus according to Mueller ‘vanishingly small.' Mueller provides certain suggestions in order to further reduce this likelihood as, for example, establishing a reliable inventory of fissile material or the further development of nuclear forensic science capable of tracing the origins of fissile material in a bomb, but warns against the adoption of cost-inefficient protection measures. In conclusion, Mueller admits that nuclear weapons are the most dangerous weapons ever invented. However, at the same time, Mueller stresses that the threats of their use are largely overestimated and this results in the distortion of protecting measures. The biggest contribution of the book can thus be seen in putting such threats into a more realistic perspective.