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Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939-1956
In engrossing detail, David Holloway tells us how Stalin launched a crash atomic program only after the Americans bombed Hiroshima and showed that the bomb could be built; how the information handed over to the Soviets by Klaus Fuchs helped in the creation of their bomb; how the scientific intelligentsia, which included such men as Andrei Sakharov, interacted with the poli ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published September 28th 1994 by Yale University Press
(first published September 1994)
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There are two authoritative books on the Soviet atomic project in English, which came out at about the same time; I have already read Richard Rhodes's Dark Sun, which also has the American hydrogen bomb as the main subject, and this is the other one. There is a dramatic story about young Soviet nuclear physicist Georgy Flyorov, who was a lieutenant in the Red Army during World War II, coming upon the abandoned science library of a university evacuated to the rear, reading American scientific jou ...more
This book is extremely thorough on the topic, delving deeply into the scientists who developed the atomic and subsequent bombs, their relationships with each other and the various Soviet state institutions and officials. It analyzes Stalin's mindset quite a bit with regard with his decisions to variously not pursue the bomb, pursue the bomb, and how to react to American breakthroughs, presenting conclusions as opinions while explaining the evidence. This presentation of things that are unknowabl ...more
I bought this book as a companion piece to Richard Rhodes' Dark Sun. While it's not as rich in technological details and character development as Dark Sun, this book does explore in depth the political and idealogical motives surrounding the Soviet atomic program. It falls short of an indictment of Soviet atomic diplomacy, but does lay the blame squarely on Stalin for leading the USSR down the path towards forty years of nuclear tension. In contrast, Soviet scientists are portrayed in a sympathe ...more
Jul 11, 2008 William Alberque rated it really liked it · review of another edition
Recommends it for: nuclear nonproliferation nerds
Recommended to William by: No one
An excellent overview of the Russian nuclear program, starting with the breathless excitement of a group of scientists pushing back the frontiers of knowledge, through the dissassoiative nonsense of revolution, through to the grim business of building things that were intended to kill tens of millions of people. A bit aimed at the experts, but still a decent read. Like the Chinese, as they got closer to an actual test, you can feel the steel of the mouth of a pistol at the backs of every scienti ...more