New: Book Report: 109 East Palace

July 4th is a holiday in the USA, celebrated with fireworks. On July 5th, I was looking at a stretch of road next to Candlestick Park on the southern edge of San Francisco. It was covered with cardboard debris. Had a truck overturned?... no. No, this was the packaging for fireworks. For many, many fireworks. Someone had come to this quiet spot to launch many fireworks. No doubt it had been very impressive. Several yards away, there was a patch of grass and trees, black and smoking. One or more fireworks had strayed. No doubt the brush fire had been very impressive. Sometimes, our love of freedom and nation causes us to create explosions; sometimes we get so caught up in the explosions that we forget that they can hurt our nation. Maybe we should ask people to study the history of the Manhattan Project before they set off fireworks.

Every so often, I read some book or other about the Manhattan Project. How often should one read a book about the Manhattan Project? Maybe once a year? I don't know. It had been too long since I last read a book about the Manhattan Project, and the details were fuzzing out of my brain. 109 East Palace did a fine job of blowing away the dust. It focuses more on the people-history than on the science-history. This book contained, for example, the most detailed timeline I've seen of the betting action that went on in the scientists' bunker during the Trinity test.

This book was pretty good. If I was just going to read one book about the Manhattan Project this year, I'm glad it was this one.

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Posted 2006-07-07