Customer Reviews

16
4.0 out of 5 stars
Hitler's Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings at Farm Hall
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$14.70 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2009
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Unfortunately, the Kindle edition of this important and interesting book does not link correctly to the editor's notes and comments. These are absolutely essential -- this is a transcript, and the notes and comments clarify both historical and technical context. I finally had to get a printed copy of the book -- my Kindle edition was a waste of money!

Having read the printed copy, I give that edition very high marks. But don't buy the Kindle edition unless they fix the editorial notes and comments.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
Toward the end of World War II, ten German nuclear physicists were captured by American and British forces and sent to Farm Hall, An English country house near Cambridge for six months. While there they were interrogated about Germany's nuclear research. Farm Hall was a comfortable prison, but it was bugged and their every word was secretly monitored by British agents. Now in a revised and updated second edition, Hitler's Uranium Club: The Secret Recordings At Farm Hall is a complete collection of transcripts made from those secret recordings in 1945. Expertly annotated by Jeremy Bernstein and put in context by Bernstein (and with an informative introduction by David Cassidy). This startling and sobering set of documents provide an insight into the thoughts and feelings of these ten scientists as they considered the destruction of the Third Reich, the failure of their beloved "German Physics", and the roles they played in the Nazi war effort. Hitler's Uranium Club is a unique, informative, invaluable, and at times unsettling contribution to World War II studies.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
For decades after the end of the WWII there has been a debate among the physicists and science/history researchers about the reasons why Germany didn't manage to develop a nuclear weapon in the 1940's. This was despite the fact that the Nazi regime had a six-month head-start in the uranium fission research (discovered at Otto Hahn's lab in 1938) and also among their ranks, Werner Heisenberg, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists at the time. Bernstein's book discloses both the secret recordings and his comments, on the dialogues taken place among some ten leading German nuclear scientists who were detained after the war at the Farm Hall, England, while their conversations were bugged and transcribed without their own knowledge. (The 1945 recordings were first released in 1992 and made available in the book "Operation Epsilon" published in 1993.) Based on the documents and other assorted evidence, it appears that Heisenberg, the main scientific leader of the uranium research under the Third Reich, had largely overestimated the amount of fissionable material needed to manufacture a nuclear bomb, and so he had instead steered towards a policy-program for building a working nuclear reactor, using heavy water as moderator. However, the latter substance was never enough in his possession due to destruction of the heavy water establishment in Vemork, Norway, in 1943 by a British partisan attack. In reality, despite the popular literature concentrating on him, Heisenberg was not the primary figure pursuing the German A-bomb, rather it was Paul Harteck, a physical chemist based at Hamburg who eventually moved to the USA in 1951.

It is interesting to note, while the American scientists had resorted to highly purified graphite as a moderator, Walter Bothe in Germany via an experimental error --after Heisenberg's initial suggestion-- had excluded its usefulness. The Manhattan Project had also undertaken the gaseous diffusion and electromagnetic separation methods to extract U235 from U238, something only Paul Harteck and Erich Bagge among the ten detained Germans had seriously worked on, this again according to the transcribed conversations. (Harteck had also persued the centrifuge method and this process nowadays bears his name.) Aside from the technical issues, the book suggests that a couple of these scientists had barely any significant part in the uranium project, and also several were content with the assumed fact that a nuclear weapon was infeasible for Germany to produce during the war, contemplating the moral and humanistic consequences of its usage. The highlight of the transcripts is the blackboard lecture of Heisenberg for his colleagues on the days after the Hiroshima attack, in which he nearly accurately explains how such a device must have been produced. The last few documents contain the detainees' exchanges about their future life after the war, for example even going to work for the Russians, or moving to Argentina to establish the commercial uses of the new technology and to make money in the process. In conclusion, I highly recommend reading this title to all the science researchers and history enthusiasts alike.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book consists of expertly annotated transcripts of conversations of German scientists taken at Farm Hall after the end of the WWII in Europe. The book is based on the recently de-classified "Farm Hall Transcripts", a revealing set of informative statements which demonstrates the low level of understanding that the German Scientists had of how to build Atomic Bombs. It is written and annotated by an American physicist, so you get some insights as to Heisenberg's mistakes. The book is a refutation of the book "Heisenberg's War" by Thomas Powers, a revisionist history that claims that Heisenberg, Germany's top scientist, really knew how an Atomic Bomb worked, but withheld this information from his colleagues and the German Government.
Heisenberg remains a mystery. He won a Nobel Prize in Physics in the early 1930s for his "Uncertainty Principle" which deals with Quantum Mechanics. Yet despite his brilliance, he sounds pretty ignorant at Farm Hall. Was he faking? I think not. To paraphrase Watergate: the question still is "What did Werner Heisenberg know and when did he know it? At Farm Hall, when he found out about Hiroshima, his ego deflated like an untied balloon. His comments were made at a vulnerable and candid moment. They reveal a knowledge one would expect from someone you picked at random at a shopping mall.
The Manhattan Project was at least as much engineering as science, and Heisenberg was more of a theologian than a nuts 'n bolts guy.
But hey, don't take my word for it. If you are really interested, I recommend this book along with "Heisenberg's War" so you get both sides. Then read "Alsos" by Samuel Goudschmidt, the scientific leader of the famous Alsos Mission, who along with Col. Boris T. Pash ("The Alsos Mission"), followed the allied armies into France and captured Heisenberg and the others. Goudschmidt was a physicist who offered the earliest (1947) and perhaps the most philosophical postmortem on the German A-bomb "program".
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Bernstein's approach to the transcripts of these recordings is interesting in that he provides running commentary on specific points alongside the transcript. This enables points to be clarified and/or interpreted as the reader peruses the transcript. However, it can be a bit bothersome at times.

He debunks the idea that all of German nuclear research during the war years was for peaceful purposes, but sometimes presses too hard on this point.

The inclusion of some of the transcript in German is particularly useful for those interested in sorting the nuanced differences between the English translation and the German original.

Definitely a great reference work and should be read by anyone interested in the early years of nuclear energy.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Excellent work - historically and personally. I can recommend this book to all readers interested in the topic of History of Science in the 20th century. (And I know the facts, as I published 8 books on Otto Hahn, who was my grandfather).
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The one-star is only for the Kindle edition, as a warning.

The book itself appears to be excellent. I say "appears" because the editing for the Kindle edition was a disaster. The font can't be changed, and doesn't flow -- there are hyphens in the text where, presumably, there were hyphens in the printed text. Some of the footnotes in the (otherwise excellent) introduction are simply inserted in the middle of the main text, interrupting a sentence.

But at least you can read them. The real problem is that you cannot read ANY of the notes that DON'T interrupt the text. Yes, you read that correctly: The whole point of this edition is that it is annotated by an expert to provide context and help the lay reader. BUT YOU CANNOT READ THE ANNOTATIONS. They aren't hyperlinked. They aren't at the end of the chapter. They aren't at the end of the book. They don't exist.

Unbelievable.

If Amazon wants to continue to promote the Kindle, it has to insist on quality control, and that means hiring professionals to do the editing. Not whatever untended machine performed this abortion.

_________________

After posting the review above, I noticed an earlier review pointing out the same problem. In 2009! Apparently not a problem for Amazon. Well, I guess the joke's on me. Caveat emptor.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book gives great insight into the psyche of the German physicists who worked on the German nuclear project. I found it very interesting to read, but the science contained therein is above anyone without a PhD in physics.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am not surprised that parts of this remind me of working for Lockheed at the end of the Cold War: A theoretical physicist with narrow experience and interest, who knows how to paint rosy pictures, managing an organization doing work between experiment and engineering. Communication only through channels where one is sure he can get credit for it. Almost no one thinking about long term objectives or underlying principles, except as required to present the case to funding agencies. Since the funding agencies don't understand the problem or the approach to the solution, there is little sense to the goals. It is also an example of provincialism that they assumed they were ahead, amusing except that it is the sort of provincialism that leads to war.

The Manhattan Project benefited from a feeling of the importance of the clearly defined goal, but it is not credible that it was as efficient as it is usually painted. The main difference was that in 1942 we realized that we could afford it and the Germans realized that they couldn't, but should keep some effort going in case that situation changed.

The author's criticisms of Heisenberg's bomb physics don't always seem to be justified, but it is clear that, aside from pitches to funding agencies, they had not worked on a bomb since the ordinance office stopped funding them in 1941 or 1942. In general the comments in the margin are very good.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Very interesting to read what the German scientists said and the slant taken on the moral high ground. The author did a fine job of describing the complicated parts in layman's terms.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed

Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb
Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb by Thomas Powers (Hardcover - February 16, 1993)

The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition
The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition by Richard Rhodes (Paperback - June 12, 2012)
$12.47
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.