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Public Faces

Written By:Harold Nicolson - 1932

  • Public Faces - Harold Nicolson cover


A world crisis in 1939 resulting from the use of rocket-propelled planes and an atom bomb by the British.

In the midst of a Middle Eastern power struggle, the British develop unexpectedly powerful bombs and intercontinental rockets. The latter are sent over enemy and allied territories alike to demonstrate Britain's might, and a test bomb accidentally destroys a U.S. cruiser, a United Fruit ship, and much of Florida. A renegade minister boldly seizes the initiative in the furor which follows and imposes universal disarmament. The earliest atomic muscular disarmament novel.

In 1932 Harold Nicolson, diplomat and biographer (also the husband of Vita Sackville-West), published another early muscular disarmament novel, Public Faces; in it the British impose universal disarmament through their monopoly of atomic bombs delivered by rockets strongly resembling cruise missiles. Nicolson's weapons are far more powerful than those of Wells: one dropped off the coast of Florida creates a tidal wave which kills eighty thousand people, shifts the course of the Gulf Stream, and permanently alters the climate. Nicolson was less interested in technical matters than in the political maneuvering of the great powers in which peace and British supremacy are ensured by the boldly illegal stroke of an imaginative, headstrong minister.