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Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,053 ratings  ·  126 reviews
The untold story of an eccentric Wall Street tycoon and the circle of scientific geniuses he assembled before World War II to develop the science for radar and the atomic bomb. Together they changed the course of history.

Legendary financier, philanthropist, and society figure Alfred Lee Loomis gathered the most visionary scientific minds of the twentieth century—Albert Ein
Paperback, 330 pages
Published May 6th 2003 by Simon Schuster (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  1,053 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tuxedo Park was an engaging biography of Alfred Loomis, who at one point was compared to a modern day Benjamin Franklin but in reading this book, I also found parallels to Leonardo Da Vinci, a true Renaissance Man. Although his love was science, Loomis after graduating from law school began working at a prestigious law firm. From there he and his partner, Landon Thorne, took over an international banking firm and became a prestigious Wall Street banker at the time of the depression. Loomis then ...more
Michael Adamchuk
The rating is a 3.5, would have been a 4 but it seemed to drag in some chapters. I don't recall ever reading about Alfred Lee Loomis (November 4, 1887 - August 11, 1975) in any of my earlier readings about Wall Street tycoons, scientists or WWII. I found this an interesting and informative read. Alfred's early career was a lawyer and investment banker with Bonbright & Company. He made a fortune on Wall Street and left it for his true love - physics and scientific research. He built a private lab ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting but somewhat difficult read. Interesting to learn about the development of radar, something that we take for granted today, but was only developed in the early 1940's. It is now a part of our daily lives (much more than we even realize) but was one of the deciding factors that helped the Allies win WWII and defeat Hitler. Alfred Loomis, creator of many types of radar, was quite a character; one to be heralded for his devotion to science; and yet we hear little or nothi ...more
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that's well-suited to someone with a good understanding of the history of World War II, as it provides valuable background to the development of radar, Loran and atomic energy. Alfred Loomis was a financier who managed to guard his fortune through the Depression by liquidating assets early. As a result, he established a laboratory for advanced research at his Tuxedo Park mansion, nurturing great scientists like Luis Alvarez, Ernest Lawrence, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein and George ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: highly-recommend
just finished this book and immediately wanted to find out more about the author and to possibly get more info on henry loomis (a living relation of the story's protagonist at the time this book was published). this was a mind blowing read full of amazing stories in scientific research leading up to World War II, including the invention of radar and the cyclotron, the latter being instrumental in the making of the atomic bomb and The Manhattan Project. Alfred Loomis was heretofore unknown to me ...more
Mar 30, 2014 rated it liked it
A very interesting story but the book provided way too much detail and dragged. It was often difficult to continue reading as the book dragged on and on.
Mal Warwick
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Radar helped win World War II, and one little-remembered man was the key to developing it.

He was a privileged young man, a product of Andover, Yale, and Harvard Law and a first cousin and protegé of Henry L. Stimson (who was variously Secretary of State and War under Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt). He made an immense fortune on Wall Street in the 1920s. But his first love was science. Even while helping structure the nation’s electric power industry, he established a lavish pr
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
This is a fascinating look at a little known part of history. The Manhattan project gets all the glory but if not for Mr. Loomis and his radar lab WWII may not have been won by the allies. Loomis is depicted warts and all. His ability to cut through government red tape is a contrast to our world today. I recommend this book not only for what it describes but also for the questions it raises about government research and the military-industrial complex.
Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a FASCINATING book. The only problem I had is that I did bog down in parts, some, or a lot, of the science went over my head. BUT, the characters and some of the stories are FASCINATING. The people are brilliant. Their personailities tend to be self centered, so their relationships are usually strained and break apart at some point, which I find very sad.
Jun 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was an amazing account of the personal lives of the men who shaped WWII.
Chunyang Ding
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book felt like an overdone steak: incredibly dry, tough, and such a waste of a good cut of meat.

The central story of Alfred Loomis is incredibly fascinating, as a man who pulled string and financed some of the largest war research efforts in American history, primarily in the development of radar and in the early stages of the Manhattan Project. Loomis comes from a family of great power and privilege, making millions in the stock market sell-off of the Great Depression, but was incredibly
M Tucker
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about the most important contributor to the development of radar and the atomic bomb that you have never heard of. Who the hell was Alfred Lee Loomis? Secret palace of science that changed the course of WWII, seriously? I picked this up at a used book store in 2002. I was in no hurry to read it so it sat on my shelf for a few years. How could this be really significant? I thought I knew all that was necessary to understand the technological and scientific developments that helped ...more
Jennifer W
Dec 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
It started off with such promise, then quickly plummeted. While I now have a better understanding of how some of the scientific advances of WWII got pushed through because of the dedication of Loomis and other scientists, I haven't any better idea of what those advances are. No where in the book did the author take the time to explain what radar really is- and apparently there are different types! I know about speed radar, a beam (of what?) is sent out, when it hits something, it bounces back, a ...more
Nov 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I picked this book to read after seeing a reference to it in a recent presentation on renewble energy development. The message was that we need a new Tuxedo park of our century and a man like Loomis to drive the developments needed for the energy crisis of our current situation. I really ejoyed this book, but got a little bored by the details in the secnd half. Unless you have a deep interest in radar technologies and cyclotrons, most of the details will be noise.

Loomis and the other characters
David Cooke
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a quick read that told me a story I never even realized I wanted to know and am thankful I now do. It has some great information about physics circa WWII and how one particular individual intersected with so many physicists, even becoming one himself. The personal tie-in was kind of lame and ends early on (making it an even odder mention, like it was a half-baked idea), and there are definitely moments that I wanted more scientific detail, but overall this is about telling the story of ...more
Nancy Welbourn
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excerpted from an email from Nancy Welbourn to her granddaughter Katelyn:

Hello, dearest Katelyn. I HAVE to talk to you on the phone, but until the right time comes, I must tell you of how hooked I am on the book, TUXEDO PARK which you found in your Library! Basically, it's about the invention of Radar and the Atom Bomb during the early part of WWII. All of this stuff was going on under everyones noses in Tuxedo, but because of the huge implications of the military necessity of these two items, t
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
The actually history the author wrote about is fascinating and worthy of a five star book. Unfortunately, this version is only so-so as a story. There is very lttle explanation of the science and technology, just enough so that someone who already has a basic understanding can pick up something out of this. The early portions about high society and finance were boring to me, the interconnections between prominent people in science, government, and business more interesting, and the heavy dose of ...more
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fascinating history of how a Wall Street financier used his fortune and interest in physics to form a group of world renown scientists that helped developed some of the earliest forms of instruments (cyclotron,radar). What I learned is how influential Alfred Loomis became, so much so that during World War 2 the Roosevelt administration chose him to head up a top secret task force to develop enhanced tools for warfare and how this naturally evolved into the discovery of nuclear fission that was ...more
Jun 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
getting near the end, I am enjoying the historical aspect of this book and some of the personalities even if the main character of this book seems somewhat aloof and unreal. I would give this a solid 3.5/4 stars as the historical aspects are worth the time spent alone. Alfred Loomis was truly a man who knew how to use his vast resources to spur others on to accomplish great things. Not without his own personal foibles Loomis was arguably one of the Driving forces in helping the allies achieve vi ...more
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Excellent book on the Rad Lab and the development of radar technology during World War II. Conant's father was close to Loomis, so the primary sources and perspectives are quite interesting when combined with the author's relaxed writing style. Briefly touches on the Manhattan Project and Loomis's private life but the focus is the radar development problem throughout. Very well written and an excellent reminder that state-sponsored professional science can still learn from motivated and engaged ...more
May 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: group, non-fiction
I threw the book down in disgust at 'They brought about the so-called clock reaction, in which a transparent solution quickly changes to dark blue, and also appeared to be able to change paraffin into a crystalline form'. Three weeks later I picked it up again, but only to close it.
If you want to know what research is going on in a laboratory, or the scientific community in general, it is best not to ask the gossipy secretary of the finance committee.
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Alfred Loomis until I read this book, but he was a really remarkable guy. You might call this book a companion to 109 East Palace (which tells the behind the scenes story of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos). This book covers the radar project that preceded it, and in some ways may have been more important to the outcome of the war.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Contrary to the misconception that the atomic bomb had anything to do with winning WWII, this book describes the critical part that radar played in the Allied forces victory over Germany. But the book is really about the role of an unsung hero in that effort, Alfred Loomis, lawyer, Wall Street magnate, turned physicist.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about the development of Radar. I got the book from my Grandfather, shortly before his passing. I would recommend it to anyone who likes science, technology, and WWII history. It was a very engaging book. Once I started reading it, I had to finish it.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I love local history and this book didn't disappoint. This book details a part of Alfred A. Loomis' life and how he played a part in the development of radar and the atomic bomb. He did so out of his house is none other than Tuxedo Park, NY. Awesome book!
Apr 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010, science
This was a really interesting chapter of history I was unaware of. Alfred Loomis, a millionaire amateur scientist opened a private laboratory which did important work on the development of radar and the atomic bomb.
F. John
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was one of the men that made the radar a reality. He was an odd man but had the right interest in science, a first rate lab, and the means to draw all the talent necessary to make the radar happen.

There are a lot of names in this book, but stick with it.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was the first book I read by Jennet Conant, and I found it an amazing piece of history with great insight into the development of nuclear power in a Tuxedo Park, a location which would not seem to be the home of the work that was done there.
Sep 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about a little known aspect of WW II. Very well written although loaded with facts and names it held my interest.
Kathy Daulton
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Biography of a self-made physicist/tycoon who supported the development of radar at his personal scientific lab. A study in the practical application of science and determined men.
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Bright Young Things: May 2014- Tuxedo Park by Jennet Conant 26 14 Jun 04, 2014 09:38PM  

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Jennet Conant is an American non-fiction author and journalist. She has written four best selling books about World War II, three of which have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Asia and America, she received a BA degree in Political Theory from Bryn Mawr College in 1982, and double-majored in Philosophy at Haverford College. She completed a

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“They now had a technical advantage over the Germans that they had to exploit immediately...According to Cockcroft, right then and there Loomis proposed the idea of establishing a large central microwave laboratory. The British enthusiastically seconded the idea, and it was quickly agreed that it should be a civilian rather than military operation, staffed by scientists and engineers from both universities and industry, based on the British model of successful research laboratories, and, not coincidentally, Loomis' own enterprise.” 0 likes
“Loomis was not any easier a father than he was a husband. He set the bar very high when it came to his three sons. After he cashed out of Bonbright, he awarded each of the three boys a substantial share of their inheritance - roughly $1 million - on the theory that it was never too early to begin charting one's own course. The youngest, Henry, was only fourteen when he was given complete financial independence.” 0 likes
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