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The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite
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The Jasons: The Secret History of Science's Postwar Elite

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  145 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
A provocative inside look at the elite scientists who have worked behind the scenes to influence American science and policy for half a century

They call themselves Jason. Their group is a child of the Manhattan Project by way of the cold war, and they count among their ranks scientific stars like Freeman Dyson and Murray Gell- Mann, and among their mentors Edward Teller
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 6th 2006 by Viking Adult (first published 2006)
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Good insight, but lame writing.... too many "and then this happened... and then this happened.... and then this happened" for my liking.... and the subject matter, although insightful, feels a little too shallow for my expectations. I was expecting more Ms Finkbeiner.

I would recommend The Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin by Francis Spufford for a more insightful and rigorous journalistic view on some of the historic moments in the applied science arena, eg Concorde, mobile
Michael Burnam-fink
Jun 05, 2011 Michael Burnam-fink rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2011
The Jasons are the most powerful people you've never heard of. An elite advisory group composed of a veritable who's who of American physics, the Jasons have been providing cutting edge scientific expertise to the Department of Defense and other agencies for nearly fifty years.

Finkbeiner manages to depict both the personal charisma and fascination of the Jasons, and their murky ethical role. True genius is strange, and appealing, and a large part of why Jason persists is the pleasure that it's m
George Dobbs
Sep 18, 2010 George Dobbs rated it it was ok
This book provided a view into a 50 year period from around 1955 to 2005 from the point of view of how the scientists interacted with the military. At first it was about trying to get the atomic genie back in the bottle with atomic test verification and then there was the ugliness of Vietnam. After that more work on ballistic missile defense. Then some branching out to climate and other topics. Jason is a group of elite scientists originally associated with DARPA.

This book felt like it could use
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it liked it
This is the story of the Jason study group. It was founded after WWII to give advice to the military. It consisted of elite scientists from universities around the country. During the early years it met only during the summer at a variety of locations. Later, it started meeting exclusively in La Jolla. It was mostly physicists to begin with, but eventually included oceanographers, computer scientists and biologists among others. There are extensive interviews with people I knew during grad schoo ...more
Feb 05, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A biography of the Jasons, a loose group of top US scientists who independently work on both classified and non-classified projects of their own choosing, mostly for the Defense Department. I knew the names of many of the physicists named in the book (and who I didn't know were Jasons), and was surprised to discover that a former academic adviser of mine is now a member. It was an interesting glimpse into this secretive group of scientists and their role in US science policy throughout the cold ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Jenn rated it it was ok
The subject seemed very interesting when I grabbed this at the bookstore but it quickly disappointed after reading the first few pages. First of all, there are way too many people to keep track of and many are introduced only a couple times. After realizing this, I decided to just forget who did what and focus on the main accomplishments of this highly regarded group of scientists. I would have liked the author to discuss the social atmosphere of the time so I could better relate what the scient ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
It was certainly interesting. I learned about a government organization I had never heard of before through the eyes of some of their members.
Andy Love
Aug 14, 2012 Andy Love rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a mostly non-technical history of the Jasons - a group of top scientific minds that provide independent recommendations to the US government and military. I liked it in general, but wished for more information on some of the technical topics, like adaptive optics (though I understand that a truly complete history is impossible due to classification issues). I first heard of the Jasons in Sharon Weinberger's "Imaginary Weapons" (and in "The Jasons" there is a brief reference to the hafniu ...more
Jun 25, 2011 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History and science minded people
Recommended to Shannon by: Lua Gregory
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a fantastic book on the history of the Jasons. Before reading, I had no idea that these people existed, althought it seems like they always should have. Even though I am not a scientist, nothing in this book went over my head, and I found every part of it completly facinating. That credit should go to Ann Finkbeiner for taking a vast subject and putting it into a concise history of a very important group of people. If you enjoy government, science or history in general you should read t ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Ty rated it did not like it
i was hoping that this book would at least be interesting, if a bit dry, but i was sorely disappointed. the story of the group of freelance scientists who have been advising the US govt on technical issues since the Cold War dissolves into tales of petty academic feuds. a couple of interesting revelations about sonar and radar technologies, but i could not bring myself to finish. quitting 1/2 way through.
Andrew McBurney
Nov 10, 2007 Andrew McBurney rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in science and its relationship to defense policy
This was a great book to read. The style is a little unconventional, with the author often discussing her interviews with Jasons as she writes about them - it works, though, since this is a portrait of a group of people, and they themselves are just as interesting as the work they have done. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the nexus between pure science, applied science, and defense policy.
Jun 17, 2008 Djuna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: refuse
I refuse to finish this book. It was horrible. As far as I can tell, the author interviewed a series of people, and with no attempt to apply logic, deeper meaning, or narrative flow, typed the notes out in paragraph form and pasted them together in a random order to form a book. Blech.
Aug 27, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
A biography en masse of some of America's scientific elite, primarily focused on the cultural evolution of the group after the Manhattan Project. Very readable.
Jun 15, 2011 Jay rated it liked it
Interesting. Very interesting. Picked it up used on Broadway and was completely fascinated.
May 29, 2009 Daniel rated it really liked it
If you like spy novels, warfare, science, and history, then you should really enjoy this one!
Dec 12, 2007 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and remarkable history of an elite scientific organization still in existence.
Michael Kotsarinis
It was OK and thoroughly researched but I can't say it was engaging.
May 07, 2013 BakuDreamer rated it it was ok
I was impress with the use of the word ' anent ' too ( ! )
Different, little slow and hard to follow in parts.
Sheikh Tajamul
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Apr 22, 2016
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USMC81 rated it it was ok
Mar 20, 2016
John Crowe
John Crowe rated it it was amazing
Mar 11, 2016
Tyler rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2016
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