The story of the twentieth century is largely the story of the power of science and technology. Within that story is the incredible tale of the human conflict between three men-Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller-the scientists most responsible for the advent of weapons of mass destruction. How did science, enlisted in the service of the state during the Second World War, become a slave to its patron during the Cold War-and scientists with it? The story of these three men, is fundamentally about loyalty-to the country, to science, and to each other-and about the wrenching choices that had to be made when these allegiances came into conflict.
Gregg Herken gives us the behind-the-scenes account based upon a decade of research, interviews, and new documents. Brotherhood of the Bomb is a vital slice of American history told authoritatively-and grippingly-for the first time.
|Publisher:||Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.03(d)|
About the Author
Gregg Herken is a curator and historian at the Smithsonian Institution and has taught at Oberlin, Caltech, and Yale. He is the author of The Winning Weapon, Counsels of War , and Cardinal Choices and received a MacArthur grant for Brotherhood of the Bomb. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Did you ever go to one of those lectures in which the professor gives you lots of interesting information and enough material to solve your homework problems but doesn't tie it all together or really justify the important formulae? The Brotherhood of the Bomb is like that. It is an interesting read (for the most part) but misses on the hows and whys. How did Lawrence's cyclotron really work? Why was Oppenheimer the best choice to lead the Manhattan Project? Brotherhood of the Bomb is best when it focuses on the relationships between the principals: Oppenheimer, Lawrence, Teller, Bethe, Szilard, Fermi, etc. Sometimes, though, it becomes hard to follow who's whom without a scorecard. (None is provided.) The author does a great job with the life and stuggles of Edward Teller but gets too little into why he became a pariah among his fellow physicists. The author seems to make no judgement on this. Yet he does judge E.O. Lawrence on several occasions, and too harshly at that. The author does a good service in telling this story. He describes a lot well (except for technical matters -- his cursory treatment of the neutron bomb, for example, is misleading and offhanded) but explains too little. The author is not a physicist: it shows, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill.
This book is an endless series of names and places, sometimes hanging in midair, with a poor index making it difficult to find the author's meaning. Example: p 156 '...Higinbotham's request.' Worse, there is no discussion of the scientific and technical interaction of the people as they struggled with the scientific and technical problems of the bomb. We learn that General Groves needed Oppenheimer as the only one who could direct the project, but we are never given any examples of his scientific and managerial competence. Just a disappointing book.We know who made the bomb in excrutiating detail, includung what they ate for lunch, but never how they made the bomb.