This book is a classic about the Cold War and nuclear catastrophe. I think it might be best read paired up with "On the Beach" (different author). They both address the same topic, but from much different perspectives. In "Fail Safe", we see the horror of war from the point of view of those people trying to stop the horror from happening. In "On the Beach", we get to know a group of individuals who continue to live their lives, as long as possible, after the horror--the life of "everyman", after nuclear war.
This book was published soon after the Cuban Missile crisis, and highlighted some of the serious fears that were going through American's heads. This book is based on one of the major fears,which was a fear of "accidental" bombings, or attacks. And, that accidental attack in the book is a result of another of the fears, which was that computers controlled too much, and that there was too much room for error. The reasons in this book really made it seem more realistic, and it made it chilling to think that the same could very well happen today.