This account details the author's involvement in the development of the first atomic bomb, his contributions to international control of atomic weapons and his role in the early development of atomic military doctrine during the Cold War. Nichols was wartime district engineer for the Manhattan Project, general manager of the Atomic Energy Commission and, for three decades, a consultant in the atomic power industry. A Pentagon official in 1952 who advocated the use of atomic weapons in Korea, he is in favor of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, andin the nonmilitary realmsupports the use of nuclear energy as less expensive, less dangerous and less damaging to the environment thanother methods of generating electricity. As a member of the official investigating committee, he offers an enlightening analysis of the Three Mile Island incident. Comparing it to the disaster at Chernobyl last year, Nichols flatly states that ``there is nothing in the Chernobyl accident that gives cause to believe'' that similar reactors in the U.S. ``are less safe than we believed before the accident.'' Photos. (July 14)
An interesting and well-written memoir by a man who was involved in the Manhattan Project and worked with Groves and Oppenheimer. Nichols was in charge of construction of the Oak Ridge uranium production plant among other things, and his reminiscences are fascinating. He continued to be involved with nuclear weapons after the war and records some fine insights about the testing at Bikini. Some might find his defense of Star Wars and nuclear power opinionated and his support of nuclear deterrence out of fashion. The book, however, is primarily autobiographical and intelligently written. One might disagree with his views but they are worth reading. Highly recommended for most libraries. Gerald N. Sandvick, Political Science Dept., North Hennepin Community Coll., Brooklyn Park, Minn.