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Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima
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Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The Human Chain Reaction That Led To The Atom Bomb On December 26, 1898, Marie Curie announced the discovery of radium and observed that "radioactivity seems to be an atomic property." A mere 47 years later, "Little Boy"exploded over Hiroshima. Before the Fallout is the epic story of the intervening half century, during which an exhilarating quest to unravel the secrets of ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by Walker & Company (first published 2005)
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Preston, Diana. BEFORE THE FALLOUT: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima. (2005). *****. This is probably the best book I’ve read that tells the history of the nuclear fission bomb and the men and women who were responsible for developing the technologies that led up to it. The author writes very lucidly about the discoveries that were made from the time of the Curies and that built one upon the other such that the understanding of the atom and its makeup became clear enough to meet the needs of a “wea ...more
My favorite nonfiction book of all time is The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Telling a story that combines brilliant individuals, the biggest scientific endeavor of all time and intense political drama, it is hard to go wrong, but author Richard Rhodes knocked it out of the park with this phone book sized opus. It is, I believe, the only nonfiction book I have read three times.

Loving the subject matter and having had success with some of her other histories, I had to try Diana Preston's Before the
Bookmarks Magazine

Readers won't mind that this book offers nothing new about a subject that has been thoroughly examined. Preston's what-if scenarios are as fascinating as her portraits of the players, from Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer to FDR, Emperor Hirohito, and Hitler. Preston's focus on the lesser-known personalities, including physicist Werner Heisenberg, chemist Ida Noddack, and Lise Meitner (who explained nuclear fission for the first time), distinguishes Before the Fallout from other accounts o

physicists get-togethers: Einstein called them "witches sabbaths"

radium - considered miracle element, most expensive
substance in the world.
used to make x-rays. toothpaste made of thorium - to make teeth radiantly white
CURIE HAIR TONIC, bath salts, suppositories, chocolates

pierre curie - stepped in front of carriage, slipped, fell, wheel crushed his skull
marie curie - had affair with married physicist (scandal); died of radiation poinsing; her fingers long mangled from radiation. before she die
A good, in-depth read about the 45 years between Radioactivity's discovery, and its weaponization. Also as much of a history of the scientists themselves, similar to Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' [although not as humorous:].

Very interesting to see how many of the scientists, slowly sensing that nuclear physics could lead to some sort of weapon, were talking about an eventual 'arms race' 20 years before the USA and USSR would both have the bomb, and do exactly that. A sense
Manuel Domínguez Álvarez
Un libro equilibrado y cautivador que repasa no solo la evolución de la física principios del XX sino también su impacto en el desarrollo de la primera bomba atómica.
Diane Preston revisa la historia personal y logros profesionales de los principales actores de esta época sin entrar en excesivos detalles con el ánimo de no aburrir en demasía al lector menos exigente. Parece no aportar datos nuevos en comparación con los clásicos en la materia como The Making of the Atomic Bomb, pero sin embargo i
Will Bell
A good story told in an engaging and forthright style which gives enough detail to keep the readers attention but not so much that the book becomes unreadable. I do find Preston's style more effective than many historical writers who write themed historical novels; albeit as a pure historical research piece of work, the narrative style sometimes distracts from the overall analytical approach. Would certainly recommend to those interested in the topic.
Muy muy interesante. Este libro me respondió muchas preguntas que siempre había tenido y me hizo aprender cosas que nunca hubiera sospechado como ciertas.

Está tan bien escrito que hasta los detalles científicos resultan fáciles de entender.

El énfasis que se hace en el factor humano en el descubrimiento de la energía atómica y la construcción de la bomba es el mejor elemento de este libro, así como las consideraciones de "¿Qué tal si hubiera pasado esto?" al final.

Se nota que Preston hizo un m
Definitely my kind of book. Popular science, the story of the scientific discoveries of the atom which led to the realization that splitting the atom would release tremendous amounts of energy, which led to the building of the atomic bomb. Ms. Preston is an engaging writer, and the story is fascinating. I couldn't put the book down. I have a renewed appreciation of these scientists, and how they began to understand the building blocks of life.
This was absolutely rivetting. Highly recommended. Preston manages to take a story with a very well known ending and make it a page turner. The research is very well done, and Preston does an excellent job of turning it into a clear, comprehensible, and rivetting narrative. There is also thoughtful consideration of the ethical and moral dimensions of science and the creation of weapons of mass destruction.
An excellent, enjoyable, and very readable history of nuclear and atomic science from its early days of radium and the Curies to the use of the atomic bomb on Japan in WWII. Preston goes easy on the science, but the book is not dumbed down at all. Instead, she focuses on historical and human implications of this research. Excellent book.
Jul 10, 2008 Reagan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: marjorie
This is a particularly well-written recount of the discovery of the atom and the road up to the fission bombs of 1945. The motivations and actions of the various people involved are dealt with nicely, and I particularly like the way she adds a bit of emphasis on the women involved in the whole process.
Matt Wood
Excellent history of nuclear physics leading up to the development and deployment of the bomb. Details many of the scientists and their discoveries in the field. International heavy hitters of physics brought to life through the author's wonderful sense of historical narrative.
This book describes the progress of the discovery of the breaking of the atom and then to forming the bomb. It also gives a bit about each of the scientists involved in the process and some history of what was happening in Germany with Hitler at the time.
Después de leer este libro, que está escrito del lado de los científicos y políticos que participaron en la construcción de la bomba, recomiendo "Hiroshima" de John Hersey, que está escrito del lado de los que sufrieron en carne propia el resultado.
Margaret Sankey
Engaging history of the scientists and context of the development of the atomic bomb, from Marie and Pierre Curie, radium tonics, Rutherford, Bohr, Oppenheimer and Co. The technicalities are explained well for non-specialists.
Este es un buen libro de historia, pero como no me interesa esta temática, no lo he disfrutado nada de nada.
Es idealpara amantes de la historia, pero no para los que adoran las novelas que tratan las emociones humanas como yo.
Loved. Brilliantly written--intertwining the activities and personalities of dozens of different chemists and physicists from around the world, making the science accessible, and exploring the ethical questions involved.
An extrememly detailed account of radioactive elements...from the discovery of radium by the Curies to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing and aftermath. Much more informative than my interest could hold.
Cassie Meyer
Very interesting look at the history of ... what is accurate? Subatomic science? Radioactivity? I especially like the description of the Manhattan Project - the scientists are very eccentric people.
Sep 23, 2007 Eric added it
Shelves: abandoned
This is a good book for research or to gain insight into specific scientists or events related to modern chemistry or physics. Other than that it kind of sucks.
Un viaje desde las alturas de la curiosidad humana a las profundidades de la guerra. El fin de la inocencia para la ciencia del siglo XX.Un libro maravilloso.
Everyone should read this. It's an amazing book about the history of the scientists that work on the atomic bomb and scientifically it's very accessible.
I loved this one. It taught so much about nuclear power and its origins in a simple, interesting way.
John Dalton
Very readable sweeping history of the science of atomic energy up until the end of the second world war.

You know a book is going to be good when you start highlighting the prologue.
A history book that reads like a novel but oh so depressing. No nukes, please.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Oct 31, 2008 Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides marked it as decided-not-to-read
Shelves: science
Inadequate sourcing/citation of background material annoys me.
Aug 12, 2008 Andrew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Andrew by: Paul
fascinating story of the history or radiation
Nov 17, 2008 Randy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
So simple even I could understand it!
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From Walker Books:

Born and raised in London, Diana Preston studied Modern History at Oxford University, where she first became involved in journalism. After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles T
More about Diana Preston...
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners that Shook the World in the Summer of 1900 Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire

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