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Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses and Historians.

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  703 ratings  ·  65 reviews
The definitive collection of writings on the Manhattan Project by the pre-eminent scientists, historians, and the everyday observers who bore witness to the birth of the modern nuclear age.

Begun in 1939, the Manhattan Project eventually employed more than 130,000 people, including our foremost scientists and thinkers, and cost nearly $2 billion, while operating under a
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published September 17th 2007 by Black Dog & Leventhal
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Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I've lived my life under an atomic cloud. My birthday is on Hiroshima Day. So every birthday also falls on an anniversary of this event. I grew up with bomb shelter exercises at my school and watched President Kennedy talk to the nation about the Cuban Missile Crisis. There was a stretch in October 1962 where we didn't know whether we would wake to see another day. Over the years, I wonder if we've become inured to the potential horror of the use of nuclear weapons. Perhaps for this ...more
Ben Vogel
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical fans need more books like this available to them. Curated collections of the words and writings of the players involved in all aspects of an event. The Manhattan Project from conception to the aftermath of the world it created was one hell of an event, and the bell it struck is still vibrating with a deep, ominous ring..
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic book. The editor does a brilliant job weaving first hand accounts of the scientists, engineers, technicians, administrative staff.. everyone who participated in the creation of the first atomic bomb. The stories are superbly chosen and the end narrative is surprisingly readable and of course, entertaining. I wish there were more history books written in this style. It was one of my favorite books completed last year.
Oct 14, 2012 marked it as to-read
I assume I'll read this in the spring or summer, as reading it in the winter will only emotionally cripple me like it did when I read about hiroshima and nagasaki when i was 14.
Doug Dale
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While not one who enjoys studying history in general, I've always been fascinated by World War II. While recently visiting Los Alamos, NM, I picked up this book. A collection of first hand accounts of the Manhattan Project, the dropping of the atomic bombs, and the aftermath, this made for very interesting reading, especially as I was in a place so key to all these developments.

In retrospect, I should have read "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes first (it's next on my reading
Larry Van Bibber
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: my-lib
It was a very interesting book for me in that I was 5 years old in 1945. I remember the celebrations in my home town but did not realize what was occurring. This book provided many opinions and insights.

I might add that I was an engineer that worked on many advanced nuclear powered systems before I retired. I have been to all 3 sites( Hanford, Oak Ridge and Los Alamos) plus others.
Jul 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made for good follow up reading after completing The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Rhodes. This is not the book to start with if you are new to the subject.
Paul Tullar
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot of book about the Manhattan Project and Oppie and think this is by far the most readable account
Craig Adamson
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Very interesting. Spur of the moment purchase during our vacation to the Omaha Zoo in early August 2012.

Different book in that it was mainly interviews and excerpts from other books, papers, published interviews, etc. They were compiled to tell the story of the Manhattan Project and the explain who the major players/contributors were.

This would be a great book to reference if I was doing a report for a history class. Enjoyable, but probably not something I will read again. In fact, I'm planning
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great compilation of first-hand accounts, news articles, memoirs, and historical analyses. Beginning with the scientific discoveries that made the bomb possible, the book took a journey through the entire history of the Manhattan Project, ending with musings on the nuclear program today. The sections are put together quite well so that pieces of writing spanning 80 years flows together like a narrative. An excellent resource for anyone interested in the history of the atomic bomb.
May 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
This is a sort of a Cliff Notes or Reader's Digest compilation of atomic history texts. Richard Rhodes writes the introduction, and at no point does he suggest why you need this book if you've already read his far more comprehensive The Making Of The Atomic Bomb - he probably thinks you don't. If I hadn't just come through it, I probably would have been a bit perplexed. A lot of the key figures remain sketchy, their motivations shadowy, their processes vague.

However, there are a few interesting
Andy Miller
Jul 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a compilation of excerpts from books, essays and interviews about the Manhattan Project. Many were about Hanford .One interesting aspect was on the racial segragation imposed when workers were recruited to come to tri cities. Other things I've read acknowledged it but in a way that is was merely reflective of the times, the excerpts here show that was not true, that it was much worse than it needed to be and worse than in many areas of the country at the time.
I was also fascinated to
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, biographies
The Manhattan Project wins in my mind as the "great project". The collection of minds involved is unparalleled and this book couldn't hope to include all of them. Few of the stories that I find so fascinated or glanced over mostly out of necessity as there's only so much to be covered in 500 pages. The secondary resources, like mini-biographies as a timeline, were quite useful.

What this book covers that others on the topic don't:
-Leslie Groves, in detail
-The process leading up to the Manhattan
Vicky Hunt
Jan 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Though quite informative, I felt the book was more a propaganda tool than history. I may be incorrect in that analysis, but I didn't feel the treatment of the subject was done in an objective, Scientific manner. It read like what it is, a government project. This doesn't necessarily imply that I didn't agree with most of the premises taken in the work. It just means that I thought it showed an attempt to validate the work there in terms of popular Science, or rather pseudo-science. Science is ...more
Kathleen Hagen
The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians. Edited By Cynthia B. Kelly, with introduction by Richard Rhodes, Borrowed from the Library for the Blind.

This is an exhaustive compendium of the writings involving the creation of the atomic bomb from the original ideas of the scientists, through the creation of the Manhattan Project and its secrecy, through the initial experiment splitting the atom, through the making and using of the
Oct 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, in-2012, nonfiction
I read this for my group's rainbow challenge. Sure, I could have started it at the beginning of August and easily finished it off before I went to America on the 16th… but I was making a family movie on deadline, writing a novel in the meantime…

In short, every spare moment was taken.

I could have read in the planes… but I didn't feel like it. (50 hours of travel total and I didn't feel like it…)

So there I am, in London, with 20,000 words to write and 400+ pages to read. Also… all of London to see
Mark Wenta
May 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating compilation of primary and secondary source material about the Manhattan Project. It encompasses a timeline that begins before fission was realized through the post-atomic responsibility we have today. I do not give out five stars lightly. I found the book to be incredibly informative and interesting. One of the more interesting elements of the story is that had scientists recognized fission for what it was during the 1930's, rather than thinking they'd made a mistake, ...more
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very engaging and informative. My only complaints are the ones frequently mentioned here about the formatting and repetitiveness which, in my opinion, are easy to get over. The format is much better suited for a coffee table type book than an ebook but it's not utterly unreadable.

This is a collection of excerpts from letters, articles, and correspondence dealing with the Manhattan Project and the people involved. Since these are direct excerpts with small passages/descriptions between them
Nina Usherwood
Oct 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
It would have been better with the excerpts from a novel being added to the historical account. I enjoyed the first part very much but the post war section I felt was to much option of scholarly afterthought. Regardless I did learn a lot more about the subject. The book clearly showed the sense of urgency. And the huge technical difficulty. The team involved had incredible intellectual power. I counted at least a dozen Nobel Prize current or future prize involved in the project at some point. ...more
Curt Jeffreys
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Told through letters, reports, documents, and oral histories, this book takes us from the first sustained nuclear reaction under a squash court in Chicago all the way to the destruction of two cities and thousands of human beings. The story of the Manhattan Project is simultaneously exciting, riveting and heart wrenching. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the only victims of the bomb; thousands of lives were consumed by this project, many were shattered, including perhaps the biggest ...more
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone curious about the Manhattan Project
Shelves: los-alamos
An expertly edited compilation of primary and secondary sources covering every aspect of the Manhattan Project and the development of the atomic bomb. Each section of the book contains a fascinating collection of eyewitness accounts, choice sections from memoirs and other non-fiction books, government memos, essays, and even some fiction (nothing by Klages, alas). No surprise - my favorite parts concerned everyday life at Los Alamos and the Oak Ridge and Hanford plants. In one passage, a man ...more
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was really excited to read this book but once I got it open I was incredibly disappointed. I found that it was a series of letters about the Manhattan Project put into an order to show a rather boring story. There were some interesting eyewitness accounts to such things as the trinity test and the actual bomb being dropped. I would not recommend this to someone who wants an interesting recommendation but a person who likes primary source material or someone writing a paper on the Manhattan ...more
William Blair
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of brief passages written by others about the Manhattan Project to build the first Atomic Bombs during World War II. The value of this book is that it includes often-referenced, but otherwise hard-to-find selections. It is also very much up to date, whereas even the best books on the subject are now showing their age, simply due to the fact that much material has recently been declassified. A must for the bookshelf of any person interested in atomic history, atom bombs, the early ...more
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an anthology on the subject - a compilation of writings and letters and it is well-ordered. What I know about atomic science is close to nothing, so the first few chapters and the accounts of the scientists involved in perfecting processes was, well, really dull. Once passed that, I found the stories informative; especially the more personal observations about the main players. The book came to a disappointing end. Yes, the dropping of the bombs on Japan changed the flavor of war ...more
Aug 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, physics
I found this book extraordinary. Enjoyed almost every minute of it. I believe that it gave an superb picture of the history and controversy surrounding the Manhattan Project without proposing that any one theory was correct. This collection of writings, anecdotes and speeches by the persons involved in the project had no agenda but to put the information out there for those interested in knowing more about the Manhattan project to synthesize for themselves (the bibliography and biographies at ...more
Zack Stackurski
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it
While neither the in depth story nor detailed history of the project that I was hoping for, this compilation of excerpts and commentary on one of the greatest scientific efforts mankind has produced thus far was highly educational... if a bit dry at times.

The successful secrecy of the project is mind blowing... as was finding out more regarding the largely voluntary spies who essentially leaked secrets in hopes of creating the Cold War. A good deal of information to learn here... but not
Tory Wagner
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I chose this book after watching a great series on TV about The Manhattan Project. The editor, Cynthia Kelly, has included excerpts from many other books, government documents and letters from people involved in the project. Most of the focus is on the center in Los Alamos where the atomic bomb was created. While the subject is fascinating, some of the material was repetitious. I especially enjoyed sections written by men who were actually on site and intimately involved in the project. The last ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book was informative, but dry. Had it relied more on oral histories and less on transcribed speeches, had the transcribed speeches been excerpted better, the book might have been at least more interesting and still informative. It seems the book was meant more as a summary archive, though, like a barely curated file drawer that was at least shuffled into chronological order. It might be a good starting point for research, but it doesn't do a very good job of painting any sort of picture.
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating book about the birth of The Atomic Bomb.

This is an extremely easy book to read because it is a compilation of stories by people who were involved in The Manhattan Project. The people covered in this book range from the famous scientists to children who lived in the camps, to town's people who were affected by the work that was happening to build the bomb.

This book is just the right mixture of science and human interest stories.

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