I don't generally think of disaster novels and movies as worthy of alternative history, but the possibility of accidents involving the world's nuclear arsenal, or nuclear bombs getting into the wrong hands, are possible enough that it's worth seriously considering what James Blight and Janet Lang wrote on Truthdig.com:
In his 2013 best-selling book “Command and Control,” Eric Schlosser examines all the known accidents involving U.S. nuclear arsenals. The book is a cure for those afflicted with apathy about the nuclear threat. The scenarios, including the Goldsboro (NC) incident, are very scary, and in some cases, our escape from nuclear war seems almost as miraculous as that in the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Had the damage not been contained, a few of the accidents might have led to a post-apocalyptic condition brilliantly portrayed in Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Road” and the 2008 film that is based on the book. McCarthy’s story is bleaker than bleak: a panorama of a civilization destroyed in nuclear fire, as a father and son walk from the northeast United States to the Gulf of Mexico, where the father believes they have a better chance of surviving a little while longer because it is warmer—or so he hopes."
Schlosser ends his book this way:
We have a false sense of comfort. Right now thousands of missiles are hidden away, literally out of sight, topped with warheads ready to go, awaiting the right electrical signal. They are a collective death wish, barely suppressed. Every one of them is an accident waiting to happen, a potential act of mass murder. They are out there, waiting, soulless and mechanical, sustained by our denial—and they work.
"And that is why, as we say in our short film “Who Cares About the Cuban Missile Crisis”, “We’ve got to get rid of the [nuclear] weapons.”
James G. Blight and janet M. Lang are on the faculty of the Department of History and the Balsillie School of International Relations at the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. They are best known for their work on the Cuban missile crisis, and for their embrace of a transmedia platform, Armageddonletters.com, where they have posted original films, a graphic novel, podcasts, blogs and a description of their recent book, “The Armageddon Letters: Kennedy/Khrushchev/Castro in the Cuban Missile Crisis” (2012).