The Bomb

Reading to illuminate and remember the beginning of the Atomic Age, and its attendant nightmares.


By John Hersey

Hersey follows six individuals — a clerk, a seamstress, a physician, a minister, a German priest, and a young surgeon — through that fateful moment on August 6, 1945 in Hiroshima to see how they respond to the disaster, and then revisits them decades later to understand the bomb’s long-term effects.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhodes

Rhodes’s excellent overview, which took home the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction as well as a National Book Award, conducts readers eloquently and engagingly step-by-step through the quarter-century process (politically, culturally, and scientifically) that led from pure theory to the reality of the atomic bomb.

Letters From the End of the World: A Firsthand Account of the Bombing of Hiroshima 

By Toyofumi Ogura

Toyofumi wrenchingly describes Hiroshima in the days after the Bomb hit in a year’s worth of letters to his wife, with whom he was reunited subsequent the bombing, but whose death soon followed. The book also includes diary entries and drawings from the history professor’s children.

Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb by the Creators, the Eyewitnesses, and Historians

Edited By Cynthia C. Kelly

Kelly, the president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, gathers the writings and thoughts of the earliest members of the Manhattan Project, who developed the first atomic bombs, as well as excerpts from plays, novels, biographies, etc, which explore the topic. Commentary from historians and nuclear experts puts these vital documents in context.

Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

By Lydia Millet

Dead though they may be, a shy librarian in Santa Fe spots atomic-bomb creators Oppenheimer, Fermi, and Szilard at the start of Millet’s black-comic novel that soon finds the trio developing a disparate cult following. Oppenheimer takes on Christ-like characteristics as Millet creatively and passionately indicts all those who passively let life just happen to them.