I couldn't find the Willis book at the library, so I backed up. Am currently reading By the Bomb's Early Light, by Paul Boyer. I remember this book from college, not because I read it but because it seemed like everyone I knew had it on their coffee table. The hip 80's cover stood out.
I picked it up from a reference by Stewart Udall's Myths of August. As I recall, many of Udall's citations for whacked out projects (atomic airplane, nuclear dynamite, rearranging the Mediterranean Sea) came from this book.
My first-first thought after a couple chapters is that the bomb had a 9/11 type effect on America, people were terrified that the end of the world was nigh. Remarkable considering we had a monopoly on the technology and had just used it to liquidate an enemy.
My second-first thought is that the cold war could be interpreted as America's response to the USSR's rejection of American hegemony, a hegemony the U.S. sought in desperation out of fear of the bomb. With the end of the cold war people took it for granted that the threat had passed. Then 9/11, and we party like it's 1945.