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Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly
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Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  44 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
On August 29, 1949, the first Soviet test bomb, dubbed First Lightning, exploded in the deserts of Kazakhstan. The startling event was not simply a technical experiment that confirmed the ability of the Soviet Union to build nuclear bombs during a period when the United States held a steadfast monopoly; it was also an international event that marked the beginning of an arm ...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published September 29th 2009)
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Nick Black
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oppenheimania
well-written and very well-researched, but it just didn't seem to go much of anywhere. lots of speculation and "what ifs" without solid conclusions. if you're a nuclear aficionado, you already know everything in here.

also, at one point he says "thermonuclear weapons fuse hydrogen, helium, and lithium" which the "lithium" there is indirect at best (n+Li->He+T) and the "helium", no, the triple alpha process is not a large contribution to weapon yield, ugh.
Red cloud at Dawn is a history of the early nuclear weapons era, from about 1945 to 1949, when the Soviet Union ended the American monopoly of the possession of nuclear weapons. The author, Michael D. Gordon, a historian at Princeton University, focuses on home the interactions between the United States and the Soviet Union, particularly their knowledge about each others nuclear programs and their perceptions of each other, influenced their respective actions. Gordon focuses on intelligence, pol ...more
Dustin Hartley
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book until about half way through it. Then I lost interest and read the rest of it much too fast. I still feel it deserves three stars.
Leah G
Mar 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Great descriptions of important events of the early nuclear age. Covers Potsdam, the years of American nuclear monopoly and the decisions made on that basis; espionage and its impact (my favorite topic of course), and the results of

This is the only book I have found that explains project Vermont- how did the Americans detect the Soviet's test of their first atomic bomb? (first lightning/Joe-1) It was not inevitable at all and took considerable politicking to get the budget and program and scien
Synthetic Vox
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely read! Classically historian in nature, it seems like Gordin has read (and incorporated) every possible scrap of paper related to the topic. He has made the four years of atomic monopoly interesting, and that is no mean feat. Further, his method highlights that the characteristics of the ways all the key players handled the monopoly carried over to the Cold War years.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Technological and diplomatic history, some based on documents declassified in 1995, about who knew what and when and from where--from tentatively breaking the news to Stalin at Potsdam to the Russians testing their own bomb on the Kazakh August steppes in 1949.
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Ian Divertie
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book!
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Michael Gordin is Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he specializes in the history of modern science. In 2013-4 he served as the inaugural director of the Fung Global Fellows Program. He came to Princeton in 2003 after earning his A.B. (1996) and his Ph.D. (2001) from Harvard University, and serving a term at the Harvard Society of Fellows. In 2 ...more
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