The justification for the atomic bomb was simple: it would defeat Hitler and end the Second World War faster, saving lives. The reality was different.
Fallout dismantles the conventional story of why the atom bomb was built. Peter Watson has found new documents showing that long before the Allied bomb was operational, it was clear that Germany had no atomic weapons of its own and was not likely to. The British knew this, but didn't share their knowledge with the Americans, who in turn deceived the British about the extent to which the Soviets had penetrated their plans to build and deploy the bomb.
The dark secret was that the bomb was dropped not to decisively end the war in the Pacific but to warn off Stalin's Russia, still in principle a military ally of the US and Britain. It did not bring a hot war to an abrupt end; instead it set up the terms for a Cold one to begin.
Moreover, none of the scientists recruited to build the bomb had any idea that the purpose of the bomb had been secretly changed and that Russian deterrence was its new objective.
Fallout vividly reveals the story of the unnecessary building of the atomic bomb, the most destructive weapon in the world, and the long-term consequences that are still playing out to this day.
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About the Author
Peter Watson is a journalist, television presenter and historian of intellectual movements. He has written for the Observer, the Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, the New York Times and the Spectator. His books include The Modern Mind; Ideas: A History from Fire to Freud; and The German Genius; The Age of Atheists; and Convergence and he has been published in 26 countries.
Table of Contents
Preface - Cover-Up: 'When the Righteous Sin' 1
Part 1 Incognito: Klaus Fuchs and Niels Bohr
1 Zigzag 11
Part 2 The Overestimate of the Germans
2 The Taste of Fear: The Menace of Fission 25
3 The Beginnings of a 'Strategic Game' 38
4 Struggles over Secrecy 46
5 The Midwives 69
6 The Strategic Sabotage of Heavy Water 75
7 The First Glimpses of Germany's Nuclear Secrets 81
8 The 'Crown Jewel' of Secrets 93
9 Intelligence Blackout: The Fatal Mistake 105
10 Fall Out 122
11 'Hard Evidence' of Soviet Spying 139
12 The Secret Agenda of General Groves 153
13 The Bohr Scare 184
14 A Vital Clue Vanishes 190
15 'Don't Bother Me With Your Scruples': The Loss of Innocence 213
16 The Claws of the Bear 223
Part 3 Lives in Parallel: Niels Bohr and Klaus Fuchs
17 The Little Fox 247
18 Lunch in the Supreme Court 269
19 'The Mission He Had Been Waiting For' 274
20 A President 'Eager for Help' 282
21 The Letter from Moscow 287
22 The Prime Minister's Mistake 295
23 The Bomb in Trouble: Mistakes at Los Alamos 303
24 The President's Mistake 309
Part 4 The Underestimate of the Russians
25 Bohr and Stalin 317
26 Fuchs: Shining in the Shadows 340