The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Richard Rhodes / Jun 04, 2020

The Making of the Atomic Bomb Twenty five years after its initial publication The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains the definitive history of nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project From the turn of the century discovery of nuc

  • Title: The Making of the Atomic Bomb
  • Author: Richard Rhodes
  • ISBN: 9781451677614
  • Page: 234
  • Format: Paperback
  • Twenty five years after its initial publication, The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains the definitive history of nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project From the turn of the century discovery of nuclear energy to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan, Richard Rhodes s Pulitzer Prize winning book details the science, the people, and the socio political realities thatTwenty five years after its initial publication, The Making of the Atomic Bomb remains the definitive history of nuclear weapons and the Manhattan Project From the turn of the century discovery of nuclear energy to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan, Richard Rhodes s Pulitzer Prize winning book details the science, the people, and the socio political realities that led to the development of the atomic bomb.This sweeping account begins in the 19th century, with the discovery of nuclear fission, and continues to World War Two and the Americans race to beat Hitler s Nazis That competition launched the Manhattan Project and the nearly overnight construction of a vast military industrial complex that culminated in the fateful dropping of the first bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Reading like a character driven suspense novel, the book introduces the players in this saga of physics, politics, and human psychology from FDR and Einstein to the visionary scientists who pioneered quantum theory and the application of thermonuclear fission, including Planck, Szilard, Bohr, Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller, Meitner, von Neumann, and Lawrence.From nuclear power s earliest foreshadowing in the work of H.G Wells to the bright glare of Trinity at Alamogordo and the arms race of the Cold War, this dread invention forever changed the course of human history, and The Making of The Atomic Bomb provides a panoramic backdrop for that story.Richard Rhodes s ability to craft compelling biographical portraits is matched only by his rigorous scholarship Told in rich human, political, and scientific detail that any reader can follow, The Making of the Atomic Bomb is a thought provoking and masterful work.

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    About "Richard Rhodes"

      • Richard Rhodes

        Richard Lee Rhodes is an American journalist, historian, and author of both fiction and non fiction which he prefers to call verity , including the Pulitzer Prize winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb 1986 , and most recently, Arsenals of Folly The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race 2007 He has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Alfred P Sloan Foundation among others He is an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University He also frequently gives lectures and talks on a broad range of subjects to various audiences, including testifying before the U.S Senate on nuclear energy.


    1. 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 p [...]

    2. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” ― Oppenheimer's translation from Bhagavad-Gita in Richard Rhodes, Making of the Atomic Bomb“Now we are all sons of bitches.” ― Richard Bainbridge, quoted in Richard Rhodes, Making of the Atomic BombI use the world masterpiece with a certain reservation. It is overused. Abused even. It is a word that can easily lose its power if diffused into too many works by too many authors. However, I can say unabashedly that this book, this history [...]

    3. The Austrian physicist Eugene Wigner emigrated to the United States and eventually found a teaching job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He met a young woman, Amelia Frank, and the two were soon married. Then she got ill. As told to Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb, Wigner recalled: I tried to conceal it from her that she had cancer and that there was no hope for her surviving. She was in a hospital in Madison and then she went to see her parents and I went with her [...]

    4. If you want to impress women, read French poetry.If you want to impress my dad, read something with a title like A Hero Will Rise: A World War II POW's Introspection About the War in the Pacific, the Bataan Death March, General McArthur, Iwo Jima, and P-38s. Oh, and John Wayne.If you want to impress a geeky engineer, read The Making of the Atomic Bomb. I can't imagine a more complete and authoritative work about one of mankind's most important inventions. When people speak of great human accompl [...]

    5. For thousands of years man's capacity to destroy was limited to spears, arrows and fire. 120 years ago we learned to release chemical energy (e.g. TNT), and 70 years ago we learned to be 100 million times+ more efficient by harnessing the nuclear strong force energy with atomic weapons, first through fission and then fusion. We've also miniaturized these brilliant inventions and learned to mount them on ICBMs traveling at Mach 20. Unfortunately, we live in a universe where the laws of physics fe [...]

    6. The grand, encyclopedic, epic story of the atomic bomb program. Starts from WWI and continues until after the end of WWII. Includes short biographies of all of the major figures of the program, as well as a firm outline of the political situation which surrounded them. Harrowing detail of when the bomb itself was dropped, and what the creators thought during the while ordeal. Brilliant blend of history and science.

    7. Incredibly thorough. This book features everything, the science, history of every single discovery and person related to nuclear physics, the politics, the Manhattan project, the dropping of the bomb, testimonies of the people it was dropped on (I compliment the author for adding this in, it makes sure to make the point that this is not just a bigger bomb), and polices after the A-bomb was dropped to the first test of the H-bomb. I have to say this book tested my capacity for retaining so much i [...]

    8. This was the textbook for my freshman seminar at college. The class was titled 'The Manhattan Project: Studies in Science and Lessons for Mankind' and while it was not what I expected going in, it was generally pretty good; I liked my professor and my classmates and we had good discussions, so it was a positive experience. I was not, however, crazy about this as a textbook, at least for the class: Rhodes focuses a lot on the technical aspects of the bomb and only deals with the tremendous ethica [...]

    9. I put this book on my site, even though I read it over 20 years ago, because it had a great influence on me. I consider it one of the best history books I've ever read. Each chapter ends with a compelling paragraph that stunned me; almost like the last scene in an old serial movie. The books treats topics like, the rise of the Jewish scientists, the rise of modern warfare, the rise of the U.S. generals, the birth of modern nuclear physics, etc. It ends with the making of the bomb, not the war an [...]

    10. I don't believe there are any histories of the Manhattan project that compare to that of Rhodes. It has been the definitive story of the building of the bomb for twenty-five years and is likely to remain so -- most of the engineers and scientists involved are no longer available for interview.The book lives up to its impressive reputation. It is a detailed and eloquent account—of the early years of almost incredible scientific productivity, of the machinations of committees that nearly killed [...]

    11. Rereading this classic on the atomic bomb written in the 1980s. It covers the science behind and politics and characters that lead to building and use of the atomic bomb in 1945. It picks up the thread at the turn of the twentieth century and developments in the field of physics and chemistry that lead to the idea of releasing the power locked in the nucleus of an atom. It also traces the politics of Europe throughout the early twentieth century such as the first world war and the spread on fasc [...]

    12. The book starts off in London on a dull September morning in 1933 with Leo Szilard contemplating the shape of things to come. From this point on, the book is a history book. It is a nuclear physics textbook. It is a slow burning mystery. It is a World War II spy thriller. The narrative jumps between continents and historical figures with such finesse that it is quite easy to get lost within its pages and forget that it deals with the greatest issue of all : the annihilation of all mankind. It is [...]

    13. I feel both guilty and generous for giving the book 3 stars, becasue it is a full and complete authoritative, did I say complete- in every single detail- history of the making of Atomic bomb and therein lies the rub.Its too complete. The lead up is never ending. Its every detail of 50 years of geopolitical developments in America, Europe and USSR, every discovery (and many failed theories) in applied and theoretical physics post 1900, by whom, when, and how other people felt about it, every deta [...]

    14. It’s not easy to review this monumental work of history, cast in the same mold as Gibbon, Ranke and Mommsen. The author manages to cover 40 years of history of atomic physics, from Einstein’s annus mirabilis to the apocalyptic use of two atom bombs on civilians in August 1945. For this reader the technical sections were not smooth sailing, although I’ll grant the author is very thorough and pellucid in his descriptions of experiments, theories, equipment and impedimenta. These passages wer [...]

    15. I think this book is a touch overrated.Having said that, I couldn't put it down."The Making of the Atomic Bomb" is incredibly well-researched; it's thought-provoking and deep, yet lively and literary. And make no mistake, it is well worth your while; its greatest sections and passages are as absorbing and exciting as anything I've ever read. (As a precocious 4th grader prone to fleeing the world by burying my nose in books, I'd read eagerly about the incredible feats of engineering and physics t [...]

    16. THE MAKING OF THE ATOMIC BOMB is Richard Rhodes’ internationally acclaimed tour de force of science writing. It is an epic history of the seven decades that saw Max Planck, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr and dozens of others lay the groundwork for the science that we now call Quantum Physics. It won several awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. I love non-fiction and I cannot think of another work of non-fiction th [...]

    17. This is an exhaustive history of the bombs development some 900 pages. The first half deals with the fundamental physics that makes nuclear weapons possible. The remainder deals with the actual development.My previous understanding of the bomb history stemmed from a movie some 20 years ago. In this film Albert Einstein perceives the potential for the bomb based on his famous equationE=MC squared. He quickly contacts President Roosevelt and FDR assigns a General Groves to develop the bomb ASAP in [...]

    18. Amazing book. The first act is a fantastic set of tableaus about the physicists and progression of science necessary to discover the capabilities of the atom. The second act is somewhat dry, regarding mostly the politicking necessary to have made the bomb happen, but there is some decent engineering spliced in here and there. The third is about the war effort, the Trinity test, and the eventual dropping of the bomb. The last chapter is horrifying and not something I'd describe as the feel-good r [...]

    19. A thick and dense book. Very well written and I learned so much more about the science of the bomb, WWII, the politics and the decision to use the bomb. Highly recommended.

    20. Monumental and Breathtaking!Is a breathtaking journey through the history of nuclear physics and the development of Atomic Theory. It is a masterpiece where Mr. Rhodes regales us with his gift for presenting difficult and intricate concepts in a very logical, insightful, colorful, and above all entertaining fashion.Loosely speaking, the first part of the book covers the key steps that carved the foundations of atomic theory: we get to witness J.J. Thompson discovering the electron; Ernest Ruther [...]

    21. Richard Rhodes does a very impressive job of telling how we got to the atomic bomb. He starts in 1900 when Plank looked into a black box and found a new world. The Making of the Atomic Bomb explores the science that makes the bomb possible, the scientist who worked in breaking the atom, the politics which made people want to do it. In doing so it becomes one of the best introductions to quantum mechanics for the laymen. Much better than other books that try to join mysticism and science, Rhodes [...]

    22. This has the reputation of being the book to read about the Manhattan Project, and having just finished it, I can't imagine one being better. Yes, it is very long. Yes, the narrative can feel a bit jumpy, especially in the first half. There are a lot of names being used, some of which never re-appear, and a lot of seemingly minor scientific experiments detailed exhaustively. And yes, Rhodes dedicates many pages to discussions that do not feel very relevant in 2013, but were very much so when it [...]

    23. There is a reason that books are given the Pulitzer Prize. Rhodes' book about the discovery of the atom and the development of the atomic bomb is a tour de force. It stands as one of the best history books I have ever read. Thorough, wide ranging, and engrossing. I am amazed at the intelligence of scientists working without the benefit of computers. I am horrified by what we can inflict upon one another in war. This is my second time through this book and it is still very much a 5 star read.

    24. Powerful book. I came to this book for the science angle more than for the political side of things, but found both fascinating. Even at 900 pages it felt short. Worth a read if you have any interest in science or history.

    25. This is an extraordinary work, one of the finest nonfiction books I've ever read. Its breadth and depth of coverage are incredible. It is engagingly written, truly a book hard to put down. It is full of wonderful anecdotes and photographs. The book is a chronological account of the science, engineering, and politics that created the atomic bomb. It is basically in four parts: physics from around 1880 to 1938, physics from 1939 to 1943, engineering and politics from 1941 to 1945, and the postwar [...]

    26. Richard Rhodes' monumental undertaking here is both admirable and daunting at the same time. As one might expect, the story of the development of the atomic bomb, and of atomic power in general, does not occur overnight and does not involved just a few individuals. It evolves over decades of often pain-staking work done by scientists who span a wide range of nationalities, specialties, opinions, and motivations. As such, a thorough job requires a lot of work – both for Rhodes and for the reade [...]

    27. Browse the many reviews of Bomb and you will find many different variants on a laudatory theme. If you read works of historical nonfiction for any of the reasons this book has rightly earned praise – its thoroughness, attention to detail, exhaustive research, fanatical devotion to accuracy, and a coherent, compassionate, and moral reconstruction of the times, talents, motivations, science, and engineering that brought the first atomic weapons into existence, alongside a taste of the implicatio [...]

    28. Managed to finish reading this on/near the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The science rolled on past my head, but the philosophy and the ethical dilemmas and the politics and the human condition(ing) didn't. When our current President--the Orange One--makes reference to what "the world has ever seen," he'd best be advised by at least one of his wackadoo knob advisers what the world has already seen. I finished the book without answers as to whether the bombs "had to be dropped" to win [...]

    29. This is a powerful book. Rhodes understands and does a good job of explaining the science and technical details involved in building the bomb, but he also understands the human element. Rhodes provides insights into the men and women who built the first atomic weapons, laying out their conflicting motives and feelings. He also provides a thoughtful discussion of the politics and ethical considerations that went into building a bomb. This is an epic story of thousands of people coming together to [...]

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