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Before the Fall-Out: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima Hardcover – International Edition, September 13, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday UK (September 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385604386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385604383
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,616,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“The great, enthralling story of the race to build the bomb is often as complicated and full of twists as nuclear physics itself. . . .”
–Joseph Kanon, author of Los Alamos

“Preston’s revelatory history is rich in telling moments, powerful personalities, intense confrontations, and indelible images of the devastation delivered by nuclear weapons.”

“What Preston does better than any other writer is to capture the human aspects of the frankly exciting race to create a nuclear weapon . . .”
Chicago Sun-Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Diana Preston is a historian, writer and broadcaster. Her books include: The Road to Culloden Moore: A First Rate Tragedy; Robert Falcon Scott and the Race to the South Pole; The Boxer Rebellion; and Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the Lusitania.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BernardZ on July 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a study from Marie Curie's scientific breakthrough through to developing the bomb. Almost all this book comes from the science world which I found interesting. I very much enjoyed reading the stories of the scientific characters.

You will however find little in the book on the military, politicians and engineers all who made as great a contribution. There is only a bit about the pilots who had trained almost a year for this mission.

There is also an interesting what-if section at the end.

Some issues I do have with the book were I found some of the answers on the use of the bomb doubtful. The writer assumes that it had in part something to do with the US trying to use it to terrify the Russians. There is little evidence for this.

Also her reasons for ending the war in the Pacific centered too much on the Japan and the US. Yet others were involved. Possibly the Russian entering the war probably was more important to Japan surrender then the US bomb.

Furthermore the US could not have offered Japan better terms at Potsdam without causing major political problems both internally and externally as she had agreed that Unconditional Surrender policy earlier with her allies at the Casablanca conference. Because of the bomb and the Russian entry into the war there was no reason to upset them.

Also the losses in the Pacific conflict were producing about 20,000 deaths a day that were not US or Japan - some notable examples were the Chinese, Indonesians, Indo China, Burma etc. If the bomb speeded up the end of the war by one month it saved several 100,000's of these people too. These people should also be considered in the moral calculation that the writer proposes.
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By Ron Mc on December 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great nonfiction book for anyone with a technical backfround! All of those people we read about in the physics books become real. I loaned my copy to a friend who did not return it -- I had to have one in my library so I opted for a used one. The used book was as represented and at a good price.
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