The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to develop the Atomic Bomb

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara Carroll Roberts
Middle school and high school students interested in the history surrounding the development of the first atomic bomb will certainly enjoy this book. Sullivan's research encompasses far more than the usual look at the scientists who led the Manhattan Project. Most notably, he explores the creation of three secret communities—Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico—where thousands of military and civilian workers lived with their families during the three years that they worked on the creation of the first atom bombs. The book is filled with archival photographs and is written in a conversational style. Back matter includes extensive endnotes, a bibliography, and suggestions for further reading, as well as a glossary and index. Reviewer: Barbara Carroll Roberts
VOYA - Melissa Moore
The United States had tried to keep itself neutral while Germany, under Hitler's ruthless leadership, invaded European countries and as Britain and France fought to contain the Nazi regime. But following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. declared war on Japan (and as a result, also on Italy and Germany). The U.S. military began the highly secretive Manhattan Project, the main purpose of which was to beat Germany to the punch and be the first to develop an atomic bomb. Scientists worked side by side with military personnel at three different, top-secret locations (Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico), developing hardware and mining uranium and plutonium. Only a few short years later, two bombs ("Little Boy" and "Fat Man") were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing Japan to its knees in surrender. Sullivan presents a highly readable history of the development and eventual use of the atomic bomb by the United States against Japan. Quotes from military personnel, laundresses, and scientists are interwoven in the text, creating a human picture of patriotism, sacrifice, and stress. Sullivan covers a variety of topics, from the scientific development of the bomb to the political and ethical implications of its use; from the living conditions at Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos to the horrific results of the bombs' devastation. Sullivan's writing is balanced and unbiased yet informed and interdisciplinary, making this volume, which is laden with photographs, an excellent source of information on a timely topic.
Kirkus Reviews
The Manhattan Project is a complex subject for a book for young readers, but Sullivan does a fine job of relating the fascinating story in clear and lively prose. The three-year Project was huge, secret and desperate, an all-out effort to beat the Nazis in the arms race. The people and places are now legendary: Oppenheimer, Los Alamos, Trinity, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Little Boy, Fat Man and Paul Tibbets. It's a tale of brilliant scientists, shadowy spies, dreadful war, secret cities and secret lives. Despite the complicated history, this book is completely compelling, a straightforward narrative told with a light touch. Only toward the end does the voice falter, lapsing into a bit of editorializing. Still, the solid writing, attractive design, abundant photographs, suggestions for further reading that include works for young readers, websites and a glossary make this the best work on the subject for young readers. A great match with Ellen Klages's novel The Green Glass Sea (2006). (appendix, chronology, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823418558
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 8.86 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction: Weapons of Mass Destruction     1
The Race for the Bomb     7
Dangerous Science     18
The Manhattan Project     24
Secret Cities, Secret Lives     39
Saboteurs and Spies     51
Trinity     77
Judgment Day     98
Rain of Ruin     110
Aftermath     129
Postscript     145
Appendix     149
Chronology     151
Notes     155
Bibliography     163
Suggestions for Further Reading     166
Websites     161
Glossary     169
Index     115
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