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Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  156 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
The story of the twentieth century is largely the story of the power of science and technology. Within that story is the incredible tale of the human conflict between three men-Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller-the scientists most responsible for the advent of weapons of mass destruction. How did science, enlisted in the service of the state during the ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Holt Paperbacks (first published September 9th 2002)
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Lukasz Pruski
Sep 15, 2015 Lukasz Pruski rated it liked it
"Physicists have known sin."
(J. Robert Oppenheimer)

Gregg Herken's "Brotherhood of the Bomb" (2002) is the story of three preeminent American physicists, Ernest Lawrence, J Robert Oppenheimer, and Edward Teller, whose work was crucial for the American nuclear program in the 1940s and 1950s, which led to the development of atomic and thermonuclear weapons. This extremely well researched and documented book is based on many thousands of pages of declassified U.S. government documents, including FBI
...more
Eugene Miya
Read this book when it came out. It's an above average history; and I can say that because of Badash's class before Richard Rhoades. I also met Gregg Herken when introduced to him by Ceruzzi when both were at the Natl. Air and Space Museum before he took his prof-ship at UC Merced.

I noted a interesting typo which Gregg pointed out could not be changed because it's merely part of the Presidential record: Eisenhower was having a discussion about whether to authorize a 100 MT bomb. His AEC Chair wa
...more
Liam
Mar 11, 2012 Liam rated it really liked it
"Teller privately considered Bethe a 'brick maker' among physicists -- thorough, meticulous, but unimaginitive and even a bit pompous. In Oppenheimer, on the other hand, Edward recognized a kindred spirit -- a 'bricklayer,' or synthesizer, who understood the underlying structure." (85)

"In preparations to steal U.S. secrets, [Pavel] Fitin had given his enterprise a code name appropriate to the Manhattan Project: Enormous (Enormoz)." (87)

"Standing next to Lawrence, Teller unnerved onlookers by spe
...more
Daniel
Jan 17, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it
This was a good book to read after finishing Richard Rhodes' "Making of the Atomic Bomb". Herken examines the lives of Ernst Lawrence, Edward Teller, and Robert Oppenheimer in detail, paying special attention to the relationships these men shared amongst themselves and with other individuals. The bomb project itself is mentioned only in context, so readers wanting a closer look at that part of history should look to Rhodes.
H Wesselius
fascinating topic but badly written. At times he attemted to cover too much and other times background information was left to the reader's imagination. His annoying habit of using first names and last names at different times became a major irritant especially when he also used some Soviet code names. The information is there but you need to get past the awful writing and in the end its not worth it.
Brett
Sep 25, 2012 Brett rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
I saw the author discuss this book on a BookTV rerun. I anticipated a deeper exploration of the three main characters and their interaction as was discussed on the TV program. I was disappointed. Focus on government and university politics. The involvment of Hoover and cronies did not add anything.
Nick Black
The Lawrence profile was pretty solid, although I've read none of Ernest's several biographies. Nothing new here on Oppenheimer or Teller.
Pierre Lauzon
Mar 28, 2015 Pierre Lauzon rated it liked it
The subtitle of the book describes it well – “The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller.” The book discusses at length these individuals at the dawn of the atomic age, their discoveries, and their work to build the first atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

The book also goes into depth on the competition between these individuals, the backbiting, and outright slander that was directed at the loyalty of Robert Oppenheimer. The book discusse
...more
Graham Velasco
Aug 26, 2013 Graham Velasco rated it really liked it
Brotherhood of the Bomb, written by Gregg Herken, is a fascinating culmination of dogged research regarding the intertwined lives of infamous scientists J Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller. It offers rare glimpses into the often-volatile personalities of these three men and their followers, citing recently unclassified documents and information to support the author's claims. I was surprised to learn of Oppenheimer's early ties to Communism, Lawrence's insatiable thirst for ...more
Sam
Sep 16, 2011 Sam rated it liked it
A decent atomic bomb history book. Not the best i've read but, worth reading. This book tried to give some insight into the men behind the bomb rather than the overall picture of the politics or science facts about it. I think it's ambitious and at time I'm sure the author had to fill in some of the blanks as there is only so much documentation in personal diaries and other tertiary sources. Not my favorite books but I've read many books about this subject as it's my strong personal interest in ...more
Rena
Nov 15, 2015 Rena rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I found this book incredibly interesting. I'm not much for history, but I absolutely love science. This biography about the major scientists responsible for the development of the atomic and Hydrogen bombs was way up my alley. Scientists are very interesting people. They tend to be quirky and very work driven.

Being a developing scientist myself, those were some important key features I enjoyed about this book. Not everything about this era is as black and white as people think it is. Whether or
...more
dejah_thoris
Mar 31, 2015 dejah_thoris rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Closer to a 3 star review if you know the history of the atomic bomb but rather confusing nonetheless. Herken likes to focus on the connections between individuals on the project and not the science itself, so you'd better be prepared to not have that described in detail. His switching between first and last names within paragraphs also can be quite confusing as is the extensive cast of characters that he barely introduces before moving onto another development. Lots of FBI and Soviet espionage ...more
Kristy
Mar 16, 2014 Kristy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I learned so much from reading this book, especially regarding the personal side of the people involved and how/why each lab came to exist. I definitely recommend this one!

Unfortunately I am horrible at keeping a multitude of characters straight in my mind. To do it again I would make a map of the major players and their affiliations right from the start. I think I would get more out of it that way.
Stormy
Jul 14, 2013 Stormy rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the physicists' relationships -- like brothers they grew up together, collaborated, competed, hated and respected each other. This book gives an excellent summary of events leading to the A bomb, the paranoia of the times and how the Livermore lab became a competitor to Los Alamos..
William March
Nov 16, 2015 William March rated it liked it
Brotherhood of the Bomb is well-researched but isn't exactly what I was expecting when I started reading. The book focuses mostly on the politics surrounding the development of the atomic bomb which can be tedious at times but the author does a good job of bringing the subjects of the book to life as real people, especial Ernest Lawrence.
Tyler Hochstetler
Dec 14, 2016 Tyler Hochstetler rated it really liked it
Perhaps the most controversial decision of all time - to build a nuclear bomb and use it. This books follows the three key men that shaped the Manhattan Project. Their lives are inspiring, perplexing and life changing. The weight some men have carried on their shoulders makes me question myself; what am I doing to contribute to the world today?
William
Aug 28, 2011 William rated it liked it
Interesting, but written in too academic a manner. It was very difficult to follow because often people are referred to only by their full name once, then by only surnames. This can be very confusing with so many important players, an alphabet soup of organizations, and a 30-year timeline.
Larry
Nov 15, 2007 Larry rated it really liked it
For anyone who wants to understand how we got in the nuclear mess we are in, this is the book. Science, egos, politics, and the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, is a REALLY bad mixture.
Tyler
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Aug 10, 2011
Dennis Kocik
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Dec 26, 2016
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Aug 13, 2012
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Jul 12, 2016
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