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Fallout: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and the Political Science of the Atomic Bomb

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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  21 reviews
So, you've always wanted to learn how to build an atomic bomb? You're in luck: Jim Ottaviani is not only a comics writer...he also has a master's degree in nuclear engineering! But even though it's not a complete do-it-yourself manual (assembly required, and plutonium is definitely not included), Fallout will bring you up to speed on the science and politics of the first n ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by G.T. Labs (first published October 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

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B. Jay
A factual and scientific overview of the Manhatten Project composed with art from multiple graphic novel artists and a dramatic narrative from author Ottaviani. This book reviews the historical and scientific aspects of the creation of the atom bomb, but also takes a very keen look at the effect of the creation on the consciousnesses of the creators and the lasting effects on their lives.

Many writers have found the graphic novel forum to be a very effective way of communicating to a wider audien
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Andrea
-- read for class

The story throughout Fallout is by Jim Ottaviani, who was a nuclear engineer and is currently a librarian. The story is split into four main sections, plus a prologue, epilogue, and three interludes. Sections follow the lifecycle of the atomic bomb – so for example, Birth is the store of how Szilard conceived of the initial concept of splitting neutrons and lobbied for the US Government to fund the research. In this sense, the scope is nicely wide – we so frequently only hear ab
...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
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Austin Tsao
The book, “Fallout” talks about the history of the atomic bomb blandly and is written in the form of a graphic novel. The book, “Fallout” is bad because it confuses the reader of literature and of plot confusion. “Fallout” is shown as a science nonfiction book, only to throw readers unknowing nuclear facts that perhaps only a person with a doctorate may know of.
Although the book was meant to by scientifically informational, the information conveyed in the panels was very confusing to read, as t
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Andres
I think the development of the atomic bomb is a fascinating story what with the immense amount of science and labor (mental and physical) that went into it. This graphic novel lays that story out and while it was interesting (especially after having just recently seen the movies Fat Man and Little Boy and The Beginning or The End) it felt like it didn't quite add up to a coherent whole.

I didn't mind the different styles of drawing in the different sections, but I was never sure what or who's sto
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Diane Bluegreen
i enjoyed this graphic novel,but would not recommend it to someone who knows nothing about the development of the atomic bomb. i don't know a lot,but have recently been doing some reading on the history of it. otherwise i would have been lost. but with that knowledge as a base,i think this is very good to get into more in depth on the politics surrounding its use.
Neville Ridley-smith
I'm very interested in the Manhattan project but on the whole this was pretty boring.

While I can see that the politics is a valid part of the whole project it doesn't make for gripping comic material.

The first part is quite fascinating - seeing the inception of the whole push towards investigating the possibility of a bomb. The middle part which shows the development phase was quite well done as well, even if the science was not explained all that much.

The last part - the 'fallout' ie the hearin
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Lara
Honestly, I kinda skimmed the second half of this one; it just really lost my interest, which is weird, because I find these people and the topic pretty fascinating in general. But it was hard to keep track of who was who with so many changes in artist, and the way the story is told just...isn't terribly compelling. The whole thing just feels clunky and awkward to me. I'm planning on giving Feynman a chance though, since it looks like there's only one illustrator for that one; maybe it will work ...more
AJ
This was probably the most disappointing of the Jim Ottaviani books I've read. Probably because it focused less on the physics (for that read Feynman) but more on the politics of the Manhattan Project. I thought the story wasn't very compelling by the end when it focuses on Oppenheimer's hearings to revoke his security clearance.

I would not recommend reading this book if you're not very familiar with the Manhattan Project and the scientists involved, because it would otherwise be hard to follow.
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Carlos
The amount of detail and accuracy is astounding for this format, but the pacing is a bit off.
Perry
I don't get graphic novels that just have talking heads. I thought this was pretty dull.
Ruth
True stories of atomic science, politics, academic rivalries, and the seeds of the cold war --- told with thought bubbles! It's not easy to make government hearings fascinating. Portrays the rise and fall of a brilliant scientist and executive. Oppenheimer was given a task to do that altered the outcome of WWII, and then was punished for achieving it. The panel examining him agreed that they had no data to consider him a threat, yet stripped him of his security clearance anyway.
Lynne Premo
Detailed look at some of what transpired during and after the making of the atomic bomb, as told through the perspectives of some of the key players. Ottaviani uses original documents as source material for much of the book, including the story of Oppenheimer's troubles with Communist witch hunts. Someone who isn't familiar with the Manhattan Project or the work (scientific as well as political) that preceded and followed it may be a bit lost though.
Meredith
So I usually don't rate things I didn't finish. This one, I burned out on about 30 pages from the end, but if I had been able to read it straight through I would have been absorbed from the start. What a fantastic account of events and personalities! Liked the variation of technique (given the varying styles of the collaborators), which kept things fresh. Really uses the graphic medium well to get into some pretty heavy history.
Adam Mann
Interesting subject, but the artwork is inconsistent and simply bad in most places. This inconsistency makes it hard to tell characters apart visually. The book becomes pretty dull at the end with big columns of text which are not suited to the graphic novel form.
Conor
It was artistically interesting, but the story and writing weren't enjoyable and there were a lot of blocks of text which detracted from the reading experience. The content was also mostly overlapping with all of the other historical fiction about the atomic bomb.
Jan
Rather uneven and longwinded. Truly the story of both Szilard and Oppenheimer pre and post the bomb is intriguing, but the many artists illustrating the story and their very different styles tend to obscure the angle and message.
Peacegal
For a graphic novel about the atomic bomb, there's surprisingly little action here. The artist's focus is more on the grave philosophical questions that came with engineering a weapon of mass destruction.
Rich
Very interesting to see the history of the Manhattan Project and how the atomic bomb came about, although the trial stuff at the end I could have lived without.
Matt Heavner
A graphic novel isn't my usual format, and I was fairly familiar with all the material, but still an interesting presentation.
Stephen
unsurprisingly, all these physicists die of cancer later on

"Science: we're all about coulda, not shoulda" -Patton Oswalt
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