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Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  13,801 ratings  ·  2,855 reviews
In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind ene ...more
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Flash Point (first published January 1st 2012)
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Victoria🌻 Believe me when I say this is the best nonfiction I have ever read. I loved it, and coming from someone that typically dislikes all nonfiction, it's a…moreBelieve me when I say this is the best nonfiction I have ever read. I loved it, and coming from someone that typically dislikes all nonfiction, it's a good review. I loved it. (less)
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Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it

This is the story of the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Once scientists learned that uranium atoms could be split, leading to a chain reaction that would cause an enormous explosion, the race was on. The U.S. assembled a team of physicists, chemists, and other specialists which secretly worked night and day to build a bomb from radioactive uranium and plutonium. At the same time Germany was producing and shipping large quantities of heavy water out of Norway, to facilitate t
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
by Steve Sheinkin

This author is such a powerful story teller. He skillfully tackled several complex topics (physics, chemistry, engineering and history) and made them easy to understand. He juggled a mosaic of characters without confusing this reader and he created a fast-paced, exciting narrative that is light and conversational in tone.

One of my favorite parts of this book was about Knut Haukelid, a Norwegian resistance fight
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you like spy thrillers? If so, this nonfiction sketch of the birth of the atomic bomb is the place to see where the modern ones were born. The accounts are barebones, often understated, but the outline is all there from trying to stop Hitler from building his own atomic bomb by destroying the heavy water plant in Norway (Norwegian resistance, gliders, & sabotage) to troubled scientists dealing with the morality of their works. There is also a sketch of the politics behind many of the deci ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book at the library and it sat around the house for a couple of weeks before I even opened it, but when I did, I couldn’t put it down. Wow!! Frightening, suspenseful and bone chillingly real, it captured my attention immediately.

The building of the first atomic bomb is explained from the discovery of atomic energy and key scientists involved to the eventual design, building, testing and detonation of this powerful weapon. Along the way we have espionage, spies, counter intellig
Brandy Painter
Wow. Wow. Wow. I am in awe of what Sheinkin did with this. This book is everything a good non-fiction should be. It is well researched, well documented, and the information is presented in a way that forces the reader to draw their own conclusions, all things excellent non-fiction does.

BUT THEN it is also everything a good novel should be. Intense, enthralling, suspenseful, and complete with a tragic hero.

The book tells the story of the building of the atomic bomb: the research, the process, th
Please note that this book has received awards for its excellence for young adults. I was hesitant at first because I was looking for an adult book covering the science and history on the making of the first nuclear bomb and about Robert Oppenheimer, the father of that first bomb. This book is not in any way childish. It gives a clear and concise history of all the events. I am completely satisfied with the book. It is an excellent place to start. Having read this you want more details, more in- ...more
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kristine by: Battle of the Books 2012
Move over, John Grisham (? or Robert Ludlum?), this is a compelling spy story at it's finest. The best part? It's all true!

I'm flabbergasted by the sheer amount of work and research it took for Sheinkin to weave the tales of the US racing to build an atom bomb, the Soviets' attempt to steal it, and the efforts to destroy Germany's bomb program, and do it in such a way that it reads like such a compelling narrative I feel as if I'm there. I read an interview where he described the process of recr
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This story, without a doubt, is a masterpiece. If Sheinkin's previous title, The Benedict Arnold, set a new standard for how non-fiction should be written for children; Bomb raises that bar.

Fact can be stranger than fiction. So why is it so difficult to get kids reading it? As Steve notes on the author flap, he's a former text book writer trying to atone for his sins. Shienkin prides himself as a story detective, taking a factual event and teasing it into a gripping retelling. Benedict Arnold w
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Bomb tells an exhilarating, deadly story from multiple perspectives. Serious history comes alive with quotes from people who actually lived it. I enjoyed this book because Sheinkin does a great job packing a lot of facts into a compelling story. I would recommend this book for any student who would like to understand major factors and decisions that made our world how it is today. Additionally, this book introduces deep questions about the future of the world.
Read this book. It's been a long time since I've recommended a book to everyone and anyone - but I'm recommending this one to you. YOU!

Look, I understand if you're an adult - and you're a little embarrassed to go into the young adult (ok, ok... Children's... yes I found this in the CHILDREN'S) section of the book store (or library) and pick up a non-fiction book. I get that. But it's worth it.

*Dear Publishing Companies:

You can make a TON of money if you market this book to adults. A TON. This i
Monica Edinger
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. The research, the writing, the plotting, the settings --- this book has it all. I am in awe of how Sheinkin managed to do the work (his sourcing looks to be impeccable), sift down to the material he ended up using, keep the multiple narrative threads going effectively, fantastic character development and write with such incredible verve. As others have pointed out parts of this are better than any thriller, say the Norwegian actions. I know bits and pieces of the story, but Sheinkin h ...more
Armando Torres
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
the book is very good bc it goes into some very good. details about ww2 and how they beat japan in ww2 and so on i rate it 5 outta 5
Rwitoban Bhaduri
This book is about the race to build one of the most dangerous weapons ever built. It is about how the Allies struggled on the atomic bomb and the plots to stop the Germans from building their own. The plots began as bad, then good, then terrific and finally awesome. Then in the end about the building of the mighty grandson of the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, capable of destroying whole countries. The book also tells about the great arms race between the USA and USSR. These fellows were doing ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
As a writer of textbooks in his previous career, Steve Sheinkin (pronounced "Shen-kin") had the expertise to craft tight, informationally correct nonfiction, but Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon proves that his abilities range far beyond that. Bomb was inundated with major youth media awards and nominations (including a 2013 Newbery Honor as well as that year's Robert F. Sibert Medal) for good reason: it's one of the most complexly interwoven nonfiction account ...more
Arthur Alfaro
Jan 14, 2015 rated it did not like it
i think it was a good book because i like to learned about world war II
Barb Middleton
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
When Harry Gold heard FBI agents knocking on his door, he scrambled to flush evidence of his treasonous actions down the toilet, but when they examined his office, and the map spilled on the floor, he knew the spy game was up. Thus begins this true story of the building of the atomic bomb. Stop right there. Time out. Imagine ear-piercing weather sirens giving you a split second warning before your body gets sucked (hands first) into the inky black vortex of an oncoming tornado. Don't say I didn' ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent look at the Manhattan Project, the physicists and others who helped design the uranium and plutonium nuclear bombs. Also very frightening, the fact that so much of our information was sent to the Soviets by spies that were here in the US, how easily they recruited Americans to give up our secrets.

Best line in the book...

Oppenheimer thought of a line from the ancient Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita, a dramatic moment in which the god Vishnu declares: "Now I am become death, the de
Vanessa S.
I rarely read nonfiction books but would absolutely read more if they were similar to Bomb. Even though I knew the ultimate outcome of this book before reading it, the book still had moments of suspense and kept me on the edge of my seat. It was much like a real-life spy thriller, and I loved hearing the backstory of how the first atomic bomb was created and actually learning the names of those involved. Sheinkin did a great job illustrating the "human" side of this particular war effort, showin ...more
Lexie Robinson Austin
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I put off reading this book for a number of reasons. Its nonfiction, and I don’t really care for nonfiction in general. It’s about Atomic Bombs, and really, who wants to read about that? It’s all war-like and violent and stuff. And plus, the cover! Snoozefest. But then, it won the Newbery Honor Award. And the Siebert Award. And the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. And The 2012 Washington Post Best Kids Books of the Year. And was a 2012 National Book Awards finalist for ...more
This book is probably the greatest disappointment of the year to me. Because up until page 227, it was a five star book. I was ready to proclaim it the book of the year, the clear Newbery choice, a must-read.

But the epilogue--it's bad.

It would probably be going too far to say that it's actually poorly written. In comparison to most of the books that I've read this year, it's probably still in the top half. But the contrast between the epilogue and the rest of the book is so stark--and it leaves
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: community, war, death, science
This mesmerizing account of the creation of the first atomic bomb describes three interconnected plot lines that follow the Allies' efforts to prevent the Germans from creating an the atomic bomb, the Americans' efforts to build the bomb, and the Soviets' determination to obtain the plans being used by American scientists. Throughout this engaging title, readers encounter vividly drawn personalities who make mistakes and are filled with regrets as well as a large cast of heroic figures. The desc ...more
Elisabeth Cody
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
BOMB id the race to build and steal the worlds biggest atomic bomb built after the discovery of fission, the discovery of atoms splitting in two, and the people involved in it. It also features famous physicists that lived back then (Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer) and is a great history learning experience.
Andrea Medina
Jan 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is about bombs. They explain how to make the bombs, and how dangerous it is to human beings. This bombs was made for war. They tested it out a lot of times. I recommend this book to scientist and college students who want to build atomic bombs or just know about them incase of an emergency, they can turn it off.
Nathan Hipple
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You know you're reading a good narrative non-fiction books when you are heartbroken by historical events you already knew were going to happen. You find yourself hoping that somehow you were wrong, that somehow it won't turn out that way. Maybe the Americans won't leak the plans about the atomic bomb to the Soviets? Maybe the government won't turn on Oppenheimer? And then, it crushes you.
Angelica Garcia
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: angelica-garcia
I really like this book, totally recommend it.In the begin I thought wow I am going to be reading a lame boring book. But then when the class started to read it i liked it.
Edward Sullivan

See my blog post, "Reading the Competition," at
Shane Phillips
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Amazing story of develop and amazing details of spy activity worldwide.
Pablo V
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I airport fall down the street and her want to water and her come to home
 Lorien Rhys ~ Live for tomorrow
Never in my years have I come across such a wonderful non-fiction! It ties in everything we know about the creation of the atomic bomb and makes it so anyone can understand the process the bomb went through to being built. I always got confused with the specific dates of this and that and Bomb just kept bringing those dates up so I was never lost. I would give this book one million stars if I could, but goodreads won’t allow me to do that. Grrrr. Great book if you’re interested in the specifics ...more
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
My kind of nonfiction book! Sheinkin ties together various threads of race to build the first atomic bomb. He uses anecdotes like Oppenheimer leaving his date in the car while he takes a short walk and forgetting to come back because he is so engrossed in his thoughts. We learn about the scientists and spies, their lives and the events leading up to and following the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. Lots of historical information in an easy to digest format. You can feed me history this way an ...more
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I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and my family lived in Mississippi and Colorado before moving back to New York and settling in the suburbs north of New York City. As a kid my favorite books were action stories and outdoor adventures: sea stories, searches for buried treasure, sharks eating people… that kind of thing. Probably my all-time favorite was a book called
“If you think atomic explosions in Asia wouldn't affect Americans, consider this. A study published in Scientific American in 2010 looked at the probable impact of a "small" nuclear war, one in which India and Pakistan each dropped fifty atomic bombs. The scientists concluded that the explosions would ignite massive firestorms, sending enormous amounts of dust and smoke into the atmosphere. This would block some of the sun's light from reaching the earth, making the planet colder and darker - for about ten years. Farming would collapse, and people all over the globe would starve to death. And that's if only half of one percent of all the atomic bombs on earth were used.

In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight.

And, like it or not, you're in it.”
“In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight.
And, like it or not, you're in it.”
More quotes…