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Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man Spiral-bound – January 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 138 pages
  • Publisher: John Coster-Mullen (2002)
  • ASIN: B0006S2AJ0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The author has attended every reunion of the 509th Composite Group since 1994. In 2004, he created a full-scale exact replica of the Little Boy atomic bomb for permanent display at the Historic Wendover, Utah Airfield Museum. Before final delivery to Wendover, it was signed by all of the surviving members of the 509th at their 2004 reunion in Wichita. This book was used by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) author Dr. Robert S. Norris as the primary source for information on both bombs in his monumental "Racing For The Bomb" biography of General Groves published in 2002. Excerpts from the book pertaining to the Little Boy safing and arming plugs were used by the Defense (Exhibit K) in the famous case of the United States vs. Butterfields Auctioneers (Case No. 02-2776) and were instrumental in U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston's 6/14/2002 decision to reject the government's claim to the plugs. The book was used by Japanese author Kiyoshi Souwa for his 2003 book "Hiroshima Atomic Bombing, The Meaning To Drop It At 8:15 A.M." and by English author Stephen Walker for his 2005 book "Shockwave." The book was also used as the main source for artist Jim Sanborn's 2003 "Critical Assembly" exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery in DC. The book is in the technical libraries at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Aldermaston in England, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum library. People at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), ORNL, LLNL, Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Hanford, DOE, Fermilab, IAEA, Naval Post Graduate School, NRDC, Georgetown University, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford have all bought copies. He serves as advisor to the National Atomic Museum and The Children of the Manhattan Project Preservation Association.

The author worked with the BBC, which produced a documentary pertaining to the bombs and used his book as source material. The "Tech Effects" program "Hiroshima" also appears on the History Channel and the author is listed in the credits. He has been interviewed by ABC News, National Public Radio in Vienna, Austria, NHK TV Tokyo, Hiroshima Chogoku Shimbun, and The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He gave a presentation at a Manhattan Project Symposium in New York on 6/26/04 and on 8/14/04, along with General Paul Tibbets, at the Wright-Patterson USAF Museum in Ohio. On April 6, 2005, he met with the Hiroshima World Peace Mission delegation at Wendover where they inspected the areas where the original test atomic bombs were assembled and uncovered the fragmentary remains of the grounded copper-covered floor used in the Fat Man test unit final assembly building. In August 2005, he was honored to accept an invitation by the government of Tinian to give a series of presentations on the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan to an audience of both US and Japanese veterans. "I was very much impressed." — Paul W. Tibbets, Brig. General, USAF, Retired "What you have now written is the best, I am sure, of any discussion on the subject I have seen." — Frederick L. Ashworth, Vice Admiral, USN, Retired "Your book contains the best description of the Nagasaki mission I have ever read." — Dutch Van Kirk, Enola Gay Navigator "I think your story is excellent. I don’t recall anything like it before." — George Caron, Enola Gay Tail Gunner "I am very favorably impressed by the amount of information you have gathered together and presented in an interesting fashion." — Norman F. Ramsey, Project Alberta "You have done a remarkable job." — Philip Morrison, Manhattan Project Physicist "Your detailed and unique research is very impressive." — Henry Linschitz, Manhattan Project Chemist "Most amazing document...In all first rate." — Harold Agnew, Project Alberta and former Director of Los Alamos

About the Author

The author is a married 59-year-old father of three. His physics teacher in school worked at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory during WWII as part of the Manhattan Project. He was a professional corporate and advertising photographer for almost 30 years, including three years as Chief Photographer for the Trane Air Conditioning Company and spent ten years in charge of an advertising photography studio in Milwaukee. He received numerous state and national awards, including a Graphic Design USA DESI Award, and served on the editorial board of Industrial Photography magazine, the Board of Directors of the Chicago Chapter of the ASMP (American Society of Magazine Photographers), and as Vice President of the APM (Advertising Photographers of Milwaukee). This is his first book.

Customer Reviews

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I initially bought a used copy of this book.
Samuel Hawley
This is a profound book which describes in living detail the creation and evolution of early atomic bomb development in the United States.
Lyle Bickley
Fantastic historic and technically detail book.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Terry Sunday TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 28, 2006
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
"Atom Bombs: The Top Secret Inside Story of Little Boy and Fat Man" fills an important niche in the literature about the development of nuclear weapons. There is no shortage of books on the Manhattan Project, including such classics as "Now It Can Be Told," "Brighter Than A Thousand Suns" and "The Making of the Atomic Bomb." Biographies of scientists who worked on the project, including Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller, also abound. One would think that there would not be much fresh material to write about a project that, after all, took place more than 60 years ago. But new books on the subject continue to crop up. One of the latest, "Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima," released in 2005, details the last couple of weeks before the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II. In reading "Shockwave," I found that virtually all of the passages that referred to the technical details of the "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" bombs footnoted John Coster-Mullens' "Atom Bombs." So I had to buy it. It was an excellent decision.

According to a review in "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists," Coster-Mullen has not yet found a publisher willing to print his book, which is unfortunate--it deserves to be issued in bound hardcover form. Hopefully someday it will be.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Maggelet on March 30, 2008
Format: Spiral-bound
Without a doubt, John Coster-Mullen's work is the definitive historical archive on the development of Little Boy and Fat Man (once you read the book, you'll understand why I call it an "archive"!). Declassified documents and photographs chronicle the creation of these crude weapons from early drop shapes (Fat Boy, Y-1222, Pumpkin, and Thin Man) to the combat weapons used in WWII. The descriptions, drawings, and photographs of components used in these weapons (to include, but not limited to timers, baro switches, radar, casing, trap door, capsule, etc) is superb; anyone who worked in the nuclear weapons community or was an Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force nuclear weapons tech will certainly relate to this material. The book also contains extensive lists of tools and equipment used to assemble LB and FM, photo's of facilities on Tinian used to assemble the bombs, and documentation on the 509th's bombing missions. The declassified LANL photographs and John's photographs of bomb casings are priceless.
A superb historical document and a must have for museums, universities, and anyone interested in our Cold War history.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George William Herbert on May 30, 2007
Format: Spiral-bound
The author has gathered together diverse and new primary source information and direct research (detail measuring and photographing surviving Little Boy and Fat Man type bombs in museums; visiting Tinian in the Pacific and sites in the US and documenting them in detail as well), interviews with Manhattan Project and 509th group survivors, and more. The result is a treasure trove of rich detail on what was done, how, and by whom as the atom bombs were being prepared and used in World War 2. It adds considerably to the available detailed history of the end of the war. Strongly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Fair Wold on September 29, 2006
Format: Spiral-bound
In first thumbing through this book, one might think it is too technical for the average reader of history. Although the book focuses on the scientific and engineering complexities of the first two atomic bombs, the operations of preparing and delivering the bombs are laid out in lucid, exciting prose. The author clearly presents details that were top secret for many decades; and he stops just short of revealing things that are still classified. This book really lets you know how the now relatively primitive nuclear bombs worked; but in a readable and fascinating way. Some readers will skip the most detailed material, but the rest of the book is stunning in its interest. I, the writer of this review, am a retired physicist and am in a position to cross-check many of the details. To the best of my knowledge, it is all correct. But most importantly, it is a good read.

Why has this book not been issued by a big name publisher? I would guess that there are two factors. First, the publisher might think the potential market would be limited to a few nerds and ex-Manhattan Project people. Not so; it is of general interest, especially to those interested in modern technology and WWII history. Second, a publisher might be concerned about the possibility of security issues - and that tingling, knife-edge separation from a security violation is one of the things that makes this book so great.

The print quality and format are fully professional and the very many illustrations are better than usually found in books by major publishers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David Rolon on March 2, 2009
Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
After reading a fascinating article in the New Yorker about the author and his passion for atom bomb research, I gave this book as a Christmas gift to a hard to please engineer friend who has a 20+ year interest in the subject matter. His typical criticism about a-bomb books is that they are sugar-coated not technical enough. I'm happy to report that this one gets two thumbs up across the board. Mr. Coster-Mullen has obviously put together a well-researched, serious document. His dedication and hard work shine!
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