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Here for the first time in rich human political and scientific detail is the complete story of how the bomb was developed from the turn of the century discovery of the vast energy locked inside the atom to the dropping of the first bombs on JapanFew great discoveries have evolved so swiftly or have been “Turning diving circling back to watch the crew of th

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The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Ientists known only to their peers Szilard Teller Oppenheimer Bohr Meitner Fermi Lawrence and yon Neumann stepped from their ivory towers into the limelightRichard Rhodes takes us on that journey step by step minute by minute and gives us the definitive story of man's most awesome discovery and invention For thousands of years man's capacity to destroy was li The Knight (High Kingdom, yon Neumann stepped from their ivory towers into the limelightRichard Rhodes takes us on that journey step by step minute by minute and gives us the definitive story of man's most awesome discovery and invention For thousands of Kleist in Thun years man's capacity to destroy was li

Richard Rhodes ï 5 characters

So misunderstood From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity there was a span of hardly than twenty five years What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan Project and then into the Bomb with frightening rapidity while sc “Now I am become Death the destroyer of worlds” The Knight (High Kingdom, years What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan Project and then into the Bomb with frightening rapidity while sc “Now I am become Death the destroyer of worlds”

10 thoughts on “The Making of the Atomic Bomb

  1. says:

    This is the most comprehensive non fiction book you will NEVER read What why? Because it takes 30 hours to complete Look I’m no speed reader but neither am I a dullard This book is so chock full of compounding facts so dense that interpreting it takes devastating attention This book must be paced like a thoroughbred There’s not a picayune fact in 886 pages—and these pages are 7 x 9 small bordered 10 font single spaced with substantial primary source uotation in 8 font 60 pages of pictures are unnumberedI don’t use these words often on Goodreads maybe 3 times in toto but here they are and all together at once The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a tour de force a magnum opus a bible a masterpiece a work sui generis Richard Rhodes has conducted a crusade to chronicle all things Atomic Bomb In scope and scale this is Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Tolstoy’s War and Peace and David McCullough’s TrumanFor his effort especially during the Cold War when archives were classified Rhodes received1 The Pulitzer2 The National Book Award3 The National Book Critics Circle Award4 Jason’s 5 StarI can’t summarize this book Doing so would be eual to reviewing the history of the papacy from Christ to presentBut I’ll try For youThe People Rhodes introduces about 500 characters but follows in essential detail the 50 70 scientists and military brass and politicians whose names are forever linked to the history of the atomic bomb The construction of the A bomb is as much the ultimate conflagration of personal fear and desire of Jewish and expat German scientists as it is a story about physics This overlay of humanity perfectly balances what would otherwise be a tough scientific readThe Science Rhodes reuires you not only to recognize your high school physics but to remember it and manipulate it The book is written well above the 10th grade level To some this reuirement will be a drawback and you’ll be lost on page 5 But for those of us comfortable with the basics of uantum mechanics the book is a sweet payoff and makes up for those missed parties in college studying Calculus III Rhodes adroitly presents the physics beginning in the late 19th century that is fundamental to understanding the process that led scientists to discover and control spontaneous nuclear fission This is where I mercifully abstain from enumerating key points of uantum mechanicsThe Complex You will learn that production of the atomic bomb was not merely resigned to the labs and acreage at Los Alamos No In fact to produce Little Boy and Fat Man US industry built uniue facilities that by war’s end would eual the footprint the employment and the cost of the entire North American auto industry in 1945 and far exceed its complexity It’s a wonder that secrecy was maintained across so many facilities and university labs and with so many participating scientists around the world Nuclear fission was first demonstrated in 1939 yet by 1945 culminating with Trinity man had harnessed the power to break apart the atomThe War Rhodes reveals the operations and battlefield maneuver of all three levels of warfare critical to the production of fissile nuclear material and provides a bright interpretation of well known battles that if slightly different would have drastically changed the timeline of production for components of the A bomb for Allies and Axis He dovetails the history of WW II and the lock step production of U235 and Pu239 He also respectfully underscores the ethical considerations of US policy toward the use of fission weapon on civilians There is a great chapter about Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the Japanese civilian perspective and again perfectly balances what would otherwise be a tough scientific readRhodes finely combines these topics in a galloping well rounded and seamless story of the wonder of man’s intellect the exigencies of fighting world domination and the revelation of a new science pulled from the face of God

  2. says:

    “Turning diving circling back to watch the crew of the Enola Gay missed the early fireball; when they looked again Hiroshima smothered under a pallJacob Beser the electronic countermeasures officer an engineering student at Johns Hopkins before he enlisted found an image from the seashore for the turmoil he saw ‘That city was burning for all she was worth It looked likewell did you ever go to the beach and stir up the sand in shallow water and see it all billow up? That’s what it looked like to me’ Little Boy exploded at 81602 Hiroshima time 43 seconds after it left the Enola Gay 1900 feet above the courtyard of Shima Hospital 550 feet southeast of Thomas Ferebee’s aiming point Aioi Bridge with a yield euivalent to 12500 tons of TNT ‘It was all impersonal’ Pilot Paul Tibbets would come to say It was not impersonal for Copilot Robert Lewis ‘If I live a hundred years’ he wrote in his journal ‘I’ll never uite get these few minutes out of my mind’ Nor would the people of Hiroshima” Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb In a book filled with thousands of deaths many of them coming in the violent double clap of light and heat from the world’s first atomic attacks one of the most poignant is that of a young woman named Amelia Frank Amelia was the wife of the Austrian physicist Eugene Wigner Wigner had emigrated to the United States and eventually found a teaching job at the University of Wisconsin Madison He and Amelia met and shortly thereafter were married Then she got ill As told to Richard Rhodes author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb Wigner recalled I tried to conceal it from her that she had cancer and that there was no hope for her surviving She was in a hospital in Madison and then she went to see her parents and I went with her but I didn't want to stay with her parents of course because I was after all a stranger to her parents I went for a little while away to Michiganand then I came back and saw her in her bed at her parents' And she told me essentially that she knows that she is close to death She said 'Should I tell you where the suitcases are?' So she knew when she talked to me I tried to conceal it from her because I felt that it would be better if a reasonably young person does not realize that she is doomed Of course we are all doomedTo me this excerpt nicely encapsulates Rhodes' Pulitzer Prize winning opus It is a testament to Rhodes’s willingness to find the human dimensions of this tale of scientific discovery to step away from plutonium cores lithium 6 deuteride blankets and boosted fission primaries and acknowledge that the heart of the story is people not just super complex euations written on a chalkboard In many ways The Making of the Atomic Bomb is the most humanistic physics textbook you’ll ever read Moreover Wigner’s remark – “we are all doomed” – is thematically appropriate because this is not simply a book about a scientific achievement but about the terrible conseuences of those achievements The fruits of the Manhattan Project gloriously covered in this tome were two enormously powerful – though differently designed – nuclear bombs Dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 they killed tens of thousands of people and sickened many thousands with radiation The bombs ended the Second World War but also pushed the world to a different kind of brink where a series of cascading mistakes could potentially have ended in the human race turning earth into a charred and glowing wasteland The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a history book rare in its excellence marvelously combining the elements of narrative history rigorous scholarship including author interviews and technical writing Even if you were terrible in physics – and I was beyond terrible as my high school physics teacher would mournfully agree – you will be able to understand the science behind this most controversial of all inventions Beyond that you will delve deep into the lives of the mostly men who dreamed it designed it built it guarded it dropped it were saved by it and were turned to dust by it Rhodes allows them all their say Leo Szilard Edward Teller Enrico Fermi Ernest Lawrence General Leslie Groves Colonel Tibbets and a grocer from Hiroshima who remembered the survivors “I can still picture them in my mind like walking ghostsThey didn't look like people of this worldThey had a very special way of walking very slowlyI myself was one of them” The two towering characters of this story are Niels Bohr and J Robert Oppenheimer Bohr is featured heavily in the first third of this book which traces a clear and clean history of physics that somehow not only avoids being soporific but is actually uite fascinating Bohr's contributions to atomic research included the Bohr model of the atom the liuid drop model of the nucleus and identification of Uranium 235 which are all things I now vaguely understand thanks to Rhodes’s explanatory abilities The latter portions of the book are dominated – unsurprisingly – by the “American Prometheus” himself Oppenheimer He was a brilliant man in his own right but his main contribution to the Manhattan Project was to manage the greatest collection of scientific minds perhaps ever gathered in one place Oppenheimer was also a gift to future historians a man acutely aware of his place in time his position at the juncture of events; a man who understood what the scientists had done before anyone else He was also because of his classical education always ready with a printable line When the Trinity test took place at Alamogordo it was Oppenheimer who famously uoted the ancient Hindu text of the Bhagavad Gita “I am become Death the destroyer of worlds” The subject matter of The Making of the Atomic Bomb is daunting and its unfortunate title makes it sound like a how to guide Nonetheless it is eminently readable fast paced and well structured It's divided into three parts part one covers the history of physics; part two takes care of the construction of the bomb including General Leslie Groves’s efforts to keep the thing a secret a task that ended in monumental failure; and part three tells of the woe unleashed upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki It is this last part that will stick with you the longest In telling of the bombings Rhodes makes an effective stylistic decision he steps almost completely out of the picture He lets Tibbets and his crew talk about dropping Little Boy and excerpts their impressions as the Enola Gay sped from the scene Then he uotes the Manhattan Project Study on the bombing observations that are no less chilling for their unaffected technocratic presentation “Because the heat in the flash comes in such a short time there is not time for any cooling to take place and the temperature of a person's skin can be raised 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the first millisecond at a distance of 23 miles” Finally Rhodes lets the survivors speak in their own words descriptions of grotesueries that seem plucked from Stradano’s depiction of Dante's hell For an author who knows how to handle prose it was a bold choice to let those who were there become the sole narrators Every so often one book or another appears to debate whether or not the bombs should have been dropped Richard Frank’s Downfall for instance does a commendable job making a case for the bombings Smartly Rhodes doesn't make any judgments Such a debate would not have fit well within these pages Instead he lets the Japanese survivors have their say forcing you to acknowledge that in making utilitarian arguments about the greater good we are not dealing with chess pieces on a board but the lives of men and women and children Yet Rhodes also tells the story of the American troops preparing for the potential invasion of Japan He uotes one young American officer's remembrance “We were going to live” The destruction they'd wrought led many of the scientists involved to back away from their invention Rhodes gives a taste of this in the epilogue though you'll have to read his seuel Dark Sun to hear the moral debate that soon sprang up It is Oppenheimer always crafting sentences in his head who sums it up and provides this book its epitaphTaken as a story of human achievement and human blindness the discoveries in the sciences are among the great epicsRhodes’s The Making of the Atomic Bomb is than eual to the task of capturing this sweeping complex and conseuential event attempting to do justice to all who were involved

  3. says:

    It was with some trepidation that I started to read this book It is such a lengthy book and I didn't anticipate enjoying it very much I thought that it would be emphasize mundane details about the Manhattan Project But I was happily surprised by the scope of the book The Manhattan Project actually takes up less than a third of its pagesThe first third of the book is about the discovery of modern physics and the lives of scientists who played a major part in the discovery The book examines the peeling back of the onion of modern physics much in the way of a detective story Modern physics involves the structure of the atom uantum mechanics and relativity Both the physics and the personal lives of the revolutionary scientists are described in great detail Richard Rhodes has a talent for weaving together the threads of a complex story These threads follow lines of reasoning experiments and theoretical workThe second third of the book describes how scientists came to the realization that fission is possible using a chain reaction with neutrons This portion of the book also describes the darkening of Europe due to the rise of the Nazis Some of the book was devoted to the rise of Antisemitism in Germany and the resultant flight of Jewish scientists out of the continent This phase of the book is important as it helps explain the number of Jewish scientists who worked on the atomic bombThe last third of the book described the Manhattan Project; not so much the project itself but the realization in Great Britain and the United States that it was necessary to develop an atomic bomb It was known that Germany and Japan were working on the bomb and if either country beat the Allies to its development that would spell out a very bad ending to the warI learned a tremendous amount from this book and there were several aspects of the book that truly stick in my mind The role of serendipity played a part in the discovery of Enrico Fermi and his colleagues The found that slow neutrons increase radioactivity than fast ones while doing an experiment on a wooden table Then the repeated the experiment on a marble table and noticed a marked reduction in radioactivity This led to a greater understanding that neutron speeds inhibited by the presence of hydrogen in the wooden table were an important factor in creating chain reactionsSeveral characters played a very central part in the book; of course General Leslie Groves Leo Szilard and Robert Oppenheimer played central roles in the story But the most interesting character was the Danish scientist Niels Bohr He won the Nobel Prize for his work in understanding the strucutre of the atom and uantum mechanics Besides this he was politically active He went to President Roosevelt and to Prime Minister Winston Churchill to try to convince them to share the atomic bomb with the Soviet Union He was concerned about the political balance of power after World War II His ideas were dismissed by both leaders He also played a key role in saving thousands of Jews in Denmark by persuading the King of Sweden to allow them to escape into Sweden to avoid capture by the NazisSome readers uestion why this book needs to be so long so detailed and sometimes describing events that appear to be so tangential to the main story But this epic book brings the various threads together and in retrospect these threads all seem vital to the story line He weaves together the personalities of the scientists their experiments and discoveries and the politics on national and international scales that were so important at the time Richard Rhodes explains why both the United States and Great Britain found it necessary to develop and finally to drop the atomic bombs on JapanThe book brings so many anecdotes with important messages to the main story line The making of the atomic bomb did not occur in a single place at a single time It evolved over continents and half a century The technical problems were formidable and the political issues perhaps eually difficult

  4. says:

    Finishing this Pulitzer Prize winning book turned out to be uite a slogThere is way too much detail about theoretical physics and technicalities involved in making the atomic bombIt is almost a technical manualIn additionthere are details about the lives of the scientists who worked on the projectbut those are not particularly compelling eitherThe liveliest portion of the book deals with the actual attack on HiroshimaThe tales of the victims are harrowingbut this portion is all too briefThe pilot who commanded the mission was Colonel Paul WTibbetsa name I remember with distasteFor himthe mission was impersonal He proudly named the planeThe Enola Gayafter his motherA crew member of his wrotehoweverthat he could not get those few minutes of horror out of his mindif he lived a hundred yearsThe attack on Nagasaki is dealt with even uicklyThe description of the fighting on the Pacific islandsprior to the dropping of the bombs is fairly interestinghoweverAlsothe part about the fire bombing of Tokyo and DresdenTokyo was already burnt outotherwise it could have been a target for the atomic bombBy and largehoweverthis felt like a theoretical physics textbook and I had to skim a great dealAnd finallythe unease felt by some of the scientists including Oppenheimerabout what they had unleashed on the worldI am become deaththe destroyer of worlds Too little remorsetoo lateThis book could have done with a great deal of trimming and less tecnicalities to make it interestingI was also reminded of anxious days in February last year when the prospect of nuclear war between India and Pakistan seemed like a real possibilityonce Not that it would be the last time

  5. says:

    “Now I am become Death the destroyer of worlds” ― Oppenheimer's translation from Bhagavad Gita in Richard Rhodes Making of the Atomic Bomb “Now we are all sons of bitches” ― Richard Bainbridge uoted in Richard Rhodes Making of the Atomic BombI use the world masterpiece with a certain reservation It is overused Abused even It is a word that can easily lose its power if diffused into too many works by too many authors However I can say unabashedly that this book this history is a masterpiece of narrative history It is powerful inspirational sad detailed thrilling chilling It has hundreds of characters Some like the early physicists almost seem like lucky gods born at the right time How can you not love Albert Einstein Niels Bohr Ernest Rutherford Marie Curie? These giants seemed to fall into the right spot in history with all the brain cells needed But on top of this they were amazing men and women; kind and nobel They seem to possess not just the smarts to deal with post Newtonian physics but a certain amount of poetry and philosophy They seem like the Founding Fathers and mothers of the 20th century and the modern age There are also the smaller gods The gods of war Oppenheimer Fermi Teller etc Richard Rhodes covers them all He explores the development of nuclear physics without losing the reader he follows the development of the bomb and the enrichment of uranium and production of plutonium He details the work and the failures in Japan and German He provides a fair assessment of the environment and the horror of World War 2 He literally leaves few stones unturned The bombs when they come seem both anticipated and surprising I felt a pressure in my shoulders and neck as I read about the Trinity tests and the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki But Rhodes doesn't let the reader off the hook He spend almost 20 pages detailing the oral histories of those who saw the effects of the bombs first hand in Hiroshima Those who lived to tell the horrible taleIf there are heroes in this tale they are always heroes with a dark asterisk or uixotic heroes Bohr trying to convince politicians to take risks with peace to convince war leaders to think beyond the dropping of a bomb Szilard trying desperately to convince scientists to remain uiet in the beginning to avoid Germany finding out and later working to convince England and the US to include the Soviet Union to avoid an arms race There is Oppenheimer and his struggles with the fate that his gifts provided for him to midwifing this rough beast into existence It is a noble and a sad and a horrific and a beautiful book all at once and it deserved all of the awards Pulitzer Prize National Book Award National Book Critics Circle Award it won I have read hundreds of nonfiction books and thousand of books and only a dozen may be betterAnd I'm still not done I want to add

  6. says:

    If you want to impress women read French poetryIf you want to impress my dad read something with a title like A Hero Will Rise A World War II POW's Introspection About the War in the Pacific the Bataan Death March General McArthur Iwo Jima and P 38s Oh and John WayneIf you want to impress a geeky engineer read The Making of the Atomic Bomb I can't imagine a complete and authoritative work about one of mankind's most important inventions When people speak of great human accomplishments in the 20th century they invariably reference von Braun and the race to the moon This book shows that the development of the atomic bomb was while morally uestionable arguably just as amazing in its engineering and scientific prowessRhodes does not ignore any aspect of the process This book is a scientific history a political history a biography and a technical manual He begins in the 19th century at the advent of nuclear physics and walks through the lives of its significant contributors He goes into often excrutiating details about the development of the first nuclear reactors the early life of Oppenheimer and the development of the amazing military industrial complex reuired to create the small amount of material needed for the three atom bombs detonated during World War II one test unit and the two used over Japan Rhodes makes the people involved seem human and manages to mostly avoid social commentary merely presenting the facts as they wereThis is truly an amazing book If you read it I suggest keeping a running list of names there are a LOT of people referenced I plan on reading this book again sometime although it did take me three months to get through it the first time

  7. says:

    A calamity of coincidencesThis book is heavy laden with intricate detail and the minutiae that had to coalesce to create and detonate the first atomic bombsIt took me 3 months to read this weighty tome the last chapter was especially nauseating It’s difficult to give a book like this on the mass murder of thousands of civilians a five star rating but Rhodes did an impeccable job tying together all the threads that wove this dark tapestry in world history From the men who discovered and decided to build the atomic bomb—once set in motion the end was almost inescapable Could the Allies have won WWII without it? Were the justifications sound? All we have is conjecture and opinion the deed was done This book lays out the entire surrounding history in a dry matter of fact way devoid of judgement Rhodes is an exceptional historian and the details are important lest we ever forget and repeat such atrocities Full RTC

  8. says:

    For thousands of years man's capacity to destroy was limited to spears arrows and fire 120 years ago we learned to release chemical energy eg TNT and 70 years ago we learned to be 100 million times efficient by harnessing the nuclear strong force energy with atomic weapons first through fission and then fusion We've also miniaturized these brilliant inventions and learned to mount them on ICBMs traveling at Mach 20 Unfortunately we live in a universe where the laws of physics feature a strong asymmetry in how difficult it is to create and to destroy This observation is also not reserved to nuclear weapons generally technology monotonically increases the possible destructive damage per person per dollar This is my favorite resolution to the Fermi paradoxBut I digress Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a wonderful and exhaustingly detailed case study of the development of a transformative technology the atomic bomb The book is very thorough and covers the initial discoveries in nuclear physics the early experiments the government's intervention the massive Manhattan project and its parallels in 4 other world powers the associated secrecy diplomacy sabotage and espionage and finally culminates with death and destruction at HiroshimaNagasaki and the associated political and ethical dilemmasI'll summarize the book to give an idea of what it's about and highlight some parts I found interestingThe story of the bomb begins circa 1938 against the backdrop of an imminent second world war with a series of rapid discoveries that showed that if you shoot a neutron into a Uranium 235 isotope atom the atom rapidly becomes unstable breaks up and gives off 1 a lot of energy and 2 an average of 25 neutrons A number of scientists immediately realized that if you chain this effect you'd make a bomb Making an atomic bomb therefore amounts to 1 isolating the U 235 isotope from natural Uranium which is mostly 993% an un fissionable U 238 and 2 shooting one handful of U 235 into another at a high speed with some conventional explosive Alternatively a completely separate path was discovered you could transform Uranium to Plutonium which is much easier to separate and create a bomb using a complex implosion mechanism Not knowing which path to take the US ended up pursuing both a U 235 bomb Little Boy and a Plutonium bomb Fat Man with their entirely separate industrial processes Amusingly both paths converged within 3 days of each other in the summer of 1945 and the bombs were dropped on HiroshimaNagasaki respectively This terrifying display of technological superiority forced Japan to accept an unconditional surrender and ended the second world warIt was uite interesting to follow the political commitment of each world power in response to the scientific developments The US established a committee in 1939 to investigate the potential of building a nuclear bomb but it crawled at a snail's speed for 3 years until almost half of the second world war was over mostly due to the incompetence of key individuals eg Lyman Briggs who sat on the UK's MAUD report or possibly Enrico Fermi who in an early meeting with Admiral Hopper cited the necessary critical mass as possibly being on the order of a small sun when he knew better However with the intervention of Oliphant et al the US finally stirred in 1942 and started the Manhattan project As for the other countries paraphrasing the UK was like Here US we did a lot of the theory work but we're kind of busy dealing with Germany over here Germany was like This isn't going to be ready in 3 5 year time horizon and we're kind of in a lot of trouble so we're going to poke at it a bit at most Also our anti semitism cost us half of all nuclear physicists so that wasn't ideal Japan was like We can try our best but we don't really have the resources and the Soviet Union was like We're kind of behind here so we're going to go all out on espionageThe Manhattan project was a spectacular display of national technical achievement Niels Bohr has said that building the bomb can never be done unless you turn the United States into one huge factory Luckily it wasn't nearly as bad In a few years The Manhattan Project took 50B 2016 dollars which was about 04% of the US GDP in its peak or only about 9 days of the total war spending In its peak it employed about 125000 people about 01% of all workforce and grew to be about as large as the 1945 US automobile industry Most of its complexity went into the laborious process of isolating U 235Plutonium from natural Uranium Once the infrastructure was in place it was possible to produce several atomic bombs per monthThe bombs were not ready in time for the defeat of Germany in 1945 but Truman decided to use the bombs on Japan to 1 prevent further loss of American lives in face of Japan that was deeply dug in and clearly unwilling to surrender and as is hinted at 2 to justify the costs of the project The Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima and killed an estimated 70K people eventually 200K by 5 years The Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki a few days later and caused 60% of that What I did not realize was that these casualties were large but not astronomical For example a single day of bombing Tokyo with conventional explosives killed 100K people and injured 1M What I also didn't know is that Liutenant General Leslie Groves who was in charge of the Manhattan Project was strongly in favor of dropping one of the bombs on Kyoto the serene Rome of Japan established back in 793 Luckily his plan was vetoed by the Secretary of War Stimson who refused to bomb the city due to its cultural significance What the hell Leslie? UnbelievableAs I am a scientist myself I was particularly curious about the extent to which the nuclear scientists who conceived and designed the bomb influenced the ethicalpolitical discussions Unfortunately it is clearly the case that the scientists were uickly marginalized and in effect told to shut up and just help build the bomb From the very start Roosevelt explicitly wanted policy considerations restricted to a small group that excluded any scientists As some of the prominent examples of scientists trying to influence policy Bohr advocated for establishing an Open World Consortium and sharing information about the bomb with the Soviet Union but this idea was promptly shut down by Churchill In this case it's not clear what effect it would have had and in any case the Soviets already knew a lot through espionage Bohr also held the seemingly naive notion that scientists should continue publishing all nuclear research during the second world war as he felt that science should be completely open and rise above national disputes Szilard strongly opposed this openness internationally but advocated for openness within the Manhattan project for sake of efficiency This outraged Groves who was obsessed with secrecy In fact Szilard was almost arrested suspected to be a spy and placed under a comical surveillance that mostly uncovered his freuent visits to a chocolate storeAs a last curious historical note World War 2 came at exactly the time when the very last conventional war could be fought Given the advances in nuclear physics starting a conflict a few years after 1939 would have been impossible due to the danger of all out nuclear war in which everyone loses I had also often thought about what would have happened if Germany did not execute Operation Barbarossa and open the Eastern front with the Soviet Union which could have bought it extra time and resources to cause havoc elsewhere in EuropeNorth Africa This book provides the answer the US nuclear weapon program was so far ahead of the German program that even if the war dragged on longer Germany would have been reduced to irradiated ashIt is almost impossible to do justice to this tome so let me conclude by saying that the story includes awesome nuclear physics science superheros fanatical supervillans massive factories appearing in the desert political intrigue British commandos on secret missions explosions oh and it all actually happened Great read 55Additional Reading Operation Epsilon Captured Nazi Scientists at Farm Hall learning about the US dropping the Atomic Bomb transcripts Very interesting reading that features Heisenberg Hahn et al confronting the fact that US built and used nuclear weapons

  9. says:

    Making of the Atomic Bomb Pulitzer Prize winner in 1988 was a well researched and comprehensive history exploring the making of the atomic bomb beginning with World War I the genesis of the Manhattan Project and continuing through the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bringing an end to World War II Rhodes divides the book into three parts; the first section exploring the history of nuclear physics from the discovery of radioactivity at the end of the nineteenth century It also explores the background of the scientists including Bohr Fermi Teller Oppenheimer Lawrence and Szilard who would later come to be an integral part of the Manhattan Project The second section concentrated on the actual making of the atomic bomb as well as the scope of the Manhattan Project featuring Oppenheimer's uniue talent directing the lab at Los Alamos The third section explores the final steps in preparing the atomic bomb for delivery as well as exploring the fears of many of the scientists This book ends with the devastation and utter destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in excruciating detail as well as in vivid photographs This is an important book for all of usRobert Oppenheimer oversaw all this activity with self evident competence and an outward composure that almost everyone came to depend on 'Oppenheimer was probably the best lab director I have ever seen' Teller repeats 'because of the great mobility of his mind because of his successful effort to know about practically everything important invented in the laboratory and also because of his unusual psychological insight into other people which in the company of physicists was very much the exception' 'Now I am become Death the destroyer of worlds' I suppose we all thought that one way or another

  10. says:

    There are thousands of books on the Atomic Bomb but only one has earned a Pulitzer Prize in History That Pulitzer is well deservedThe challenge in writing a book on the bomb is not a dearth of material but the volumes of books already on the subject There are biographies on many of the key figures involved in making the bomb There are histories that talk about specific stories or events that occurred during the story Scientific manuals talking about the technical aspect of making the bomb alone could fill a small library This does not include the studies discussing the affects after the bomb was droppedThe challenge in writing a book on the bomb is trying to find the perfect match between the story and the detailsRichard Rhodes book is a comprehensive bookThe book is not about the Chicago Labs or Los Alamos or even Manhattan project The book is about the global efforts to crack the secret of the atom It does not begin with America's entry into WWII but rather discusses the early study into the atom It even delves into the discussion of other weapons of mass destruction machine guns chemical and biological weapons and bombs Did I mention that this is a comprehensive book?But therein lies the mastering of the English Language A 900 page book on an Atomic Bomb could have become cumbersome and buried under the mass of information available and shared But it does notOver the past few months in preparation for the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb I have read several books on the subject This book is easily the best It covers everything in an interesting and education way