Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
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Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  6,365 ratings  ·  1,272 reviews
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind ene...more
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Flash Point (first published January 1st 2012)
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Newbery 2013
15th out of 118 books — 1,082 voters
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Mock Printz 2013
20th out of 92 books — 470 voters

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Community Reviews

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I picked up this book at the library and it sat around the house for a couple of weeks before I even opened it, but when I did, I couldn’t put it down. Wow!! Frightening, suspenseful and bone chillingly real, it captured my attention immediately.

The building of the first atomic bomb is explained from the discovery of atomic energy and key scientists involved to the eventual design, building, testing and detonation of this powerful weapon. Along the way we have espionage, spies, counter intellig...more
Please note that this book has received awards for its excellence for young adults. I was hesitant at first because I was looking for an adult book covering the science and history on the making of the first nuclear bomb and about Robert Oppenheimer, the father of that first bomb. This book is not in any way childish. It gives a clear and concise history of all the events. I am completely satisfied with the book. It is an excellent place to start. Having read this you want more details, more in-...more
Brandy Painter
Wow. Wow. Wow. I am in awe of what Sheinkin did with this. This book is everything a good non-fiction should be. It is well researched, well documented, and the information is presented in a way that forces the reader to draw their own conclusions, all things excellent non-fiction does.

BUT THEN it is also everything a good novel should be. Intense, enthralling, suspenseful, and complete with a tragic hero.

The book tells the story of the building of the atomic bomb: the research, the process, th...more
Feb 28, 2013 Kristine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kristine by: Battle of the Books 2012
Move over, John Grisham (? or Robert Ludlum?), this is a compelling spy story at it's finest. The best part? It's all true!

I'm flabbergasted by the sheer amount of work and research it took for Sheinkin to weave the tales of the US racing to build an atom bomb, the Soviets' attempt to steal it, and the efforts to destroy Germany's bomb program, and do it in such a way that it reads like such a compelling narrative I feel as if I'm there. I read an interview where he described the process of recr...more
This story, without a doubt, is a masterpiece. If Sheinkin's previous title, The Benedict Arnold, set a new standard for how non-fiction should be written for children; Bomb raises that bar.

Fact can be stranger than fiction. So why is it so difficult to get kids reading it? As Steve notes on the author flap, he's a former text book writer trying to atone for his sins. Shienkin prides himself as a story detective, taking a factual event and teasing it into a gripping retelling. Benedict Arnold w...more
Read this book. It's been a long time since I've recommended a book to everyone and anyone - but I'm recommending this one to you. YOU!

Look, I understand if you're an adult - and you're a little embarrassed to go into the young adult (ok, ok... Children's... yes I found this in the CHILDREN'S) section of the book store (or library) and pick up a non-fiction book. I get that. But it's worth it.

*Dear Publishing Companies:

You can make a TON of money if you market this book to adults. A TON. This i...more
Monica Edinger
Excellent. The research, the writing, the plotting, the settings --- this book has it all. I am in awe of how Sheinkin managed to do the work (his sourcing looks to be impeccable), sift down to the material he ended up using, keep the multiple narrative threads going effectively, fantastic character development and write with such incredible verve. As others have pointed out parts of this are better than any thriller, say the Norwegian actions. I know bits and pieces of the story, but Sheinkin h...more
This book is probably the greatest disappointment of the year to me. Because up until page 227, it was a five star book. I was ready to proclaim it the book of the year, the clear Newbery choice, a must-read.

But the epilogue--it's bad.

It would probably be going too far to say that it's actually poorly written. In comparison to most of the books that I've read this year, it's probably still in the top half. But the contrast between the epilogue and the rest of the book is so stark--and it leaves...more
I randomly picked up this book at my son's school library where I volunteer. Upon reading the first chapter I became immediately hooked. BOMB tells the story of the science, the scientists, the politics and the spy network behind the creation of the first atomic bomb. Before reading this book my understanding of the bomb was Picasso-esque: I knew a little something about most of the parts, but not in a logical or organized way.

Steve Sheinkin elegantly describes atomic physics and complicated his...more
4/26/13 ** Wow! This is history, but told with a strong narrative voice and attention to the quirks, strengths, and foibles of the characters involved. The book essentially follows three story lines - the Americans' and Germans' races to build an atomic bomb during WWII and the Russians attempt to steal the plans.

Sheinkin meticulously researched the events, includes quotes from the people involved, and weaves the details into a compelling whole. This book was a National Book Award finalist and r...more
Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin follows and connects three threads: Germans trying to build an atomic bomb, Americans trying to build one faster, and the Soviets trying to steal it.

Bomb is a detailed, well-researched, narrative account of many related stories woven together. I had heard of various parts of the story of the development of the bomb: Fermi and the Chicago pile group at the University of Chicago, research at Los Alamos involvin...more
Barb Middleton
When Harry Gold heard FBI agents knocking on his door, he scrambled to flush evidence of his treasonous actions down the toilet, but when they examined his office, and the map spilled on the floor, he knew the spy game was up. Thus begins this true story of the building of the atomic bomb. Stop right there. Time out. Imagine ear-piercing weather sirens giving you a split second warning before your body gets sucked (hands first) into the inky black vortex of an oncoming tornado. Don't say I didn'...more
This mesmerizing account of the creation of the first atomic bomb describes three interconnected plot lines that follow the Allies' efforts to prevent the Germans from creating an the atomic bomb, the Americans' efforts to build the bomb, and the Soviets' determination to obtain the plans being used by American scientists. Throughout this engaging title, readers encounter vividly drawn personalities who make mistakes and are filled with regrets as well as a large cast of heroic figures. The desc...more
Sheinkin, S. (2012). Bomb: The race to build—and steal—the world’s most dangerous weapon. New York: Roaring Brook Press/Flash Point. 266 pp. ISBN: 978-1-59643-487-5. (Hardcover); $19.99.

Our Common Core standards have school districts around the state (and country) rushing to provide more nonfiction for students of all ages. My work with students convinces me that many students subconsciously define reading as being the fiction reading that we do. Too many teachers across the state and nation av...more
Tim Vandenberg
Yes, this is a 5-star book, like everyone else says. Yes, this book deserves every award & honor it's earned. And....YES, I am also *glad* this book did *NOT* win the Newbery......Shocker Statement? Yes.

While every aspect of "Bomb" is depressing, that's only because it is honest. Yet, its major flaw is that it offers no all.

World War II, lots of people dying, the fate of the world at stake? Check.

Russian Spies infiltrating the VERY highest levels of Manhattan Project circles? Chec...more
Lexie Robinson Austin
I put off reading this book for a number of reasons. Its nonfiction, and I don’t really care for nonfiction in general. It’s about Atomic Bombs, and really, who wants to read about that? It’s all war-like and violent and stuff. And plus, the cover! Snoozefest. But then, it won the Newbery Honor Award. And the Siebert Award. And the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. And The 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year. And was a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for...more
Steve Sheinkin did an amazing job with this book! What a great example of nonfiction for young adults. I found it to be very readable and completely interesting. He gave enough information to help me understand the details, but not so much that I got bogged down. He also did a great job at helping me to keep all the scientists, spies, politicians, and other characters straight. I kept thinking of details from The Green Glass Sea while I was reading this. Now I really want to read Sheinkin's The...more
Deb Stern
So many elements that tie in together to make this a page-turner based on a time period I am pretty clueless on. The author has woven science, history, social studies, social skills, patriotism, honor, loyalty, integrity, remorse, deception, naiveness, arrogance, suspense, drama, horror, sabotage, self-sacrifice, and espionage into a fairly short read. I did not race through this book however, I really wanted to understand even the smallest details. Kids today like the post-apocalyptic zombie st...more
Dana Kurniawan
Who is evil in the novel?
In a book of such complex controversy and applicable bias, it is quite hard to say who is actually evil, though there are many potential candidates. There are, let me first clarify, many acts of evil that sometimes might confuse the reader because in warfare sometimes what we view as evil is paradoxical to others as peace. In BOMB, I imagine that almost everybody would target Hitler as their evil person, but I think otherwise. Often we mistaken evil in what forms it tak...more
Michelle Pegram
The story of the making of the atomic bomb has been deftly woven into a page-turning. edge-of-your-seat, thriller with unbelievable choices, shocking intrigue, and devastating consequences. Benefitting from the passage of time that has led to the declassification of materials, Sheinkin exposes all.

The story tells the tale of the development of the atomic bomb from the perspective of the American Scientists involved. It does however give insight on what was happening in Germany and the USSR at th...more
Best nonfiction I've read all year, and there have been some good ones. Read our full review at Bookends Blog, complete with a couple of Common Core Standards connections to use in the classroom:
Ryan Hatch
This is such a good book. Even now, days later, I find myself thinking about it. Sheinkin does such a great job of intertwining all of the complex and interesting stories surrounding the development of the atomic bomb. I'm almost surprised this is a young adult book, not for the complexity, but because it doesn't read like one and I'm sure it would have done just as well, if not better, marketed to adults. Sheinkin makes it easy to follow each character and does a great job of explaining som...more
Bomb is a book that describes the race to build the atomic bomb. It starts with the discovery that uranium atoms can be split in two. Scientists find out that they can use this discovery as a new form of energy - atomic energy. Famous physicist Robert Oppenheimer is called in to do research and try to use this new form of energy to build an atomic bomb. They disover that an ounce of uranium can give off enough energy to flip a coin. Now imagine what 300 pounds can do. It then leads to Robert goi...more
Jennifer Mangler
I absolutely loved this book! I've been wanting to read it for a while, and finally decided to make this my SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) book. Every Tuesday and Thursday for 20 minutes this book got my undivided attention. And every Tuesday and Thursday it was incredibly hard to put the book down. I just wanted to keep reading. There were so many parts of the book that brought out a wide range of emotions. The students in my room during SSR couldn't believe how much I reacted to the book. I fo...more
Allison Freeman

APA Citation:

Sheinkin, S. (2012). Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. New York: Roaring Book Press

Genre: Informational

Format: Print

Selection Process: YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction (2013), Newberry Honor (2013), National Book Award Finalist (2012)

Kraus, D. (2012). Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon Booklist, 109(1), 100.


Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon is all about...more
Jim Erekson
Couldn't put it down. I would like to read historians' reviews to see how they think it stacks up and what the historiography looks like. But all the quality indicators are there--meticulous documentation of primary and secondary sources; and an unusual item--a source index for all quotations. So many of the picture book authors skimp on telling about use of primary sources in their notes, and it makes the research look shallow.

Sheinkin was obviously swallowed up in this project. His narrative...more
I liked the intertwining of the 3 main themes - the American race to build the atomic bomb, the Russian espionage to steal plans for the bomb and the Allies intervention in the German's attempts at building the bomb. The information about the Allied attack on the heavy water plant was new information to me. I liked the pacing of the book. From the epilogue, the author did lots of research and has a nice list of suggested reading. For those interested in more about Robert Oppenheimer, specificall...more
I was actually excited to read this book because of the great reviews and because I was pleasantly surprised by Moonbird, another non-fiction book.

I jumped right in and was so surprised that I didn't fall in love right away. I will admit I was worried I wouldn't like the book at all. The reason was because I was so confused about who everyone was. So many foreign names, and so many people introduced very quickly. I had to keep flipping back pages to see if I had already read about that person.

Margo Tanenbaum
Although I love to read nonfiction, particularly about history, I can't say there are many books in this genre that I literally can't put down until I finish them because I am so engrossed in the story. Steve Sheinkin's latest work, Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon, was one of those I drag to the bathroom with me. He makes the reader feels as if he or she is reading the newest thriller from James Patterson or Lee Child. Even adults are likely to find this boo...more
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“If you think atomic explosions in Asia wouldn't affect Americans, consider this. A study published in Scientific American in 2010 looked at the probable impact of a "small" nuclear war, one in which India and Pakistan each dropped fifty atomic bombs. The scientists concluded that the explosions would ignite massive firestorms, sending enormous amounts of dust and smoke into the atmosphere. This would block some of the sun's light from reaching the earth, making the planet colder and darker - for about ten years. Farming would collapse, and people all over the globe would starve to death. And that's if only half of one percent of all the atomic bombs on earth were used.

In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight.

And, like it or not, you're in it.”
“In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight.
And, like it or not, you're in it.”
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