The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes PDF

This is the most comprehensive non-fiction book you will NEVER read.What, why?Because it takes 30 hours to complete!!Look, I’m no speed reader, but neither am I a dullard.This book is so chock-full of compounding facts, so dense, that interpreting it takes devastating attention.This book must be paced like a thoroughbred.There’s not a picayune fact in 886 pages—and these pages are 7 x 9, small-bordered, 10 font, single-spaced, with substantial primary source quotation in 8 font.60 pages of pictures are unnumbered.

I don’t use these words often (on Goodreads, maybe 3 times in toto), but here they are, and all together at once.The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a tour de force, a magnum opus, a bible, a masterpiece, a work sui generis.Richard Rhodes has conducted a crusade to chronicle all things Atomic Bomb.In scope and scale this is Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, and David McCullough’s Truman.

For his effort, especially during the Cold War when archives were classified, Rhodes received:
1. The Pulitzer
2. The National Book Award
3. The National Book Critics Circle Award
4. Jason’s 5 Star

I can’t summarize this book.Doing so would be equal to reviewing the history of the papacy from Christ to present.

But I’ll try.For you.

The People.Rhodes introduces about 500 characters, but follows in essential detail the 50-70 scientists and military brass and politicians whose names are forever linked to the history of the atomic bomb.The construction of the A-bomb is as much the ultimate conflagration of personal fear and desire of Jewish and expat German scientists, as it is a story about physics.This overlay of humanity perfectly balances what would otherwise be a tough scientific read.

The Science.Rhodes requires you not only to recognize your high school physics, but to remember it and manipulate it.The book is written well above the 10th grade level.To some this requirement will be a drawback and you’ll be lost on page 5.But for those of us comfortable with the basics of quantum mechanics, the book is a sweet payoff (and makes up for those missed parties in college studying Calculus III).Rhodes adroitly presents the physics, beginning in the late 19th century, that is fundamental to understanding the process that led scientists to discover and control spontaneous nuclear fission.This is where I mercifully abstain from enumerating key points of quantum mechanics.

The Complex.You will learn that production of the atomic bomb was not merely resigned to the labs and acreage at Los Alamos.No.In fact, to produce Little Boy and Fat Man, US industry built unique facilities that, by war’s end, would equal the footprint, the employment, and the cost of the entire North American auto industry in 1945, and far exceed its complexity.It’s a wonder that secrecy was maintained across so many facilities and university labs, and with so many participating scientists around the world.Nuclear fission was first demonstrated in 1939, yet by 1945, culminating with Trinity, man had harnessed the power to break apart the atom.

The War. Rhodes reveals the operations and battlefield maneuver of all three levels of warfare critical to the production of fissile nuclear material, and provides a bright interpretation of well known battles, that, if slightly different, would have drastically changed the timeline of production for components of the A-bomb, for Allies and Axis.He dovetails the history of WW II and the lock-step production of U235 and Pu239.He also respectfully underscores the ethical considerations of US policy toward the use of fission weapon on civilians.There is a great chapter aboutHiroshima and Nagasaki from the Japanese civilian perspective, and, again, perfectly balances what would otherwise be a tough scientific read.

Rhodes finely combines these topics in a galloping, well-rounded, and seamless story of the wonder of man’s intellect, the exigencies of fighting world domination, and the revelation of a new science pulled from the face of God.
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