Clinton's Reviews > The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
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Jul 17, 07

bookshelves: history
Read in January, 2006

If you want to impress women, read French poetry.

If you want to impress my dad, read something with a title like A Hero Will Rise: A World War II POW's Introspection About the War in the Pacific, the Bataan Death March, General McArthur, Iwo Jima, and P-38s. Oh, and John Wayne.

If you want to impress a geeky engineer, read The Making of the Atomic Bomb. I can't imagine a more complete and authoritative work about one of mankind's most important inventions. When people speak of great human accomplishments in the 20th century, they invariably reference von Braun and the race to the moon. This book shows that the development of the atomic bomb was, while morally questionable, arguably just as amazing in its engineering and scientific prowess.

Rhodes does not ignore any aspect of the process. This book is a scientific history, a political history, a biography, and a technical manual. He begins in the 19th century at the advent of nuclear physics, and walks through the lives of its significant contributors. He goes into (often excrutiating) details about the development of the first nuclear reactors, the early life of Oppenheimer, and the development of the amazing military-industrial complex required to create the small amount of material needed for the three atom bombs detonated during World War II (one test unit and the two used over Japan). Rhodes makes the people involved seem human and manages to mostly avoid social commentary, merely presenting the facts as they were.

This is truly an amazing book. If you read it, I suggest keeping a running list of names: there are a LOT of people referenced. I plan on reading this book again sometime, although it did take me three months to get through it the first time.
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Fiona I'm a woman! I am reading it. I am loving it! I'm also wearing my fingers down to nubs looking up stuff on Wikipedia every few pages...


Durham Wilton best history book ever.great science book also


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