Larry Hosken: New: Book Report: The Making of the Atomic Bomb

I've read plenty of books about the development of the atomic bomb, but concentrating mostly on Los Alamos. It's a tale kind of like Camelot for nuclear physicists—for a time, the world's best and brightest gathered. It's kind of a nice thing to read about, pleasant to ignore the other parts of the atomic bomb's development. But there was more, of course. And Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb doesn't just talk about Los Alamos. There's also the research that came before (going so slowly when all the physicists were at different labs). There's poor, poisoned Hanford. And a few pages of memories of Hiroshima survivors; not as sad to get through as Black Rain, but plenty sad. It is good to read about the sprint of discovery that these scientists achieved, but also good to remember the terrible outcome.

Some tidbits:

Like I said, I've read plenty of books about the development of the atomic bomb—and I think they assumed that I'd already read this one. This is the famous one. In retrospect, that explains some strange emphasis in those books. It's not that the such-and-such point was necessarily worth emphasizing; but it's something that Rhodes didn't find; or some fact that came to light after The Making of the Atomic Bomb came along. Though some of those points are interesting. Now we know that some Japanese cities were spared from firebombing so that the USA could test the A-bomb on them. Rhodes didn't know that. Put that together with Stimson's worries that he'd be accused of treason for supporting bomb development if that expensive thing didn't actually do anything, and that list is even more interesting. Would the war have ended sooner if the USA had fire-bombed those cities, if the emperor was head of a country with no "war machine" remaining?

Tags: book mad science brutal truth
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