Roger DeBlanck's Reviews > The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
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Jun 16, 12

Read from June 04 to 16, 2012

Rhodes chronicles the “making” of the atomic bomb in what must rank as the most definitive and comprehensive account of the bomb’s history. Rhodes’ efforts made him the recipient of a rare trio of achievements: the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The sweep and expanse of the narrative is impressive. His incredible research and understanding of the complex nature of scientific data make for some dense pages of explanation that often read like a science book. I found the minute details of the scientific experiments both fascinating and tedious. These sections, however, I was able to skim through because Rhodes made possible for me to grasp the essence of the obstacles and progress of the science involved in the development of the bomb. What interested me more were the narratives of the key figures involved in the atomic project and the political aspects influencing the historical timeline of what was transpiring during the war as the bomb was built. Rhodes does a fine job of balancing the minutiae of the science with the unfolding events of the war and how the circumstances influenced the eventual decision to use atomic weapons. The story works on your nerves and conscience. The penultimate chapter “Tongues of Fire” is harrowing and silencing. It is haunting to read the first-hand accounts of the crew members on the Enola Gay that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. And reading about the victims and the eyewitness accounts of the survivors leaves you crestfallen and pondering the magnitude of the horror and devastation that the bomb produced. Rhodes compiles and delivers the facts. In doing so, he presents a terrifying look into the scientific, political, philosophical, and moral complexity of making and using the bomb. After finishing this book, I was left feeling the same ambivalence I have always felt when considering this topic: there was no moral justification to the use the bomb, but under the circumstances, it was the right thing to do at the time to end the worst war in the history of the world.
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Reading Progress

06/09/2012 page 394
44.0% "Incredible sweep and expanse of a narrative. Rhodes' research is incredible."

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