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James B. Conant: Harvard to Hiroshima and the Making of the Nuclear Age (Stanford Nuclear Age Series) Paperback – January 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: Stanford Nuclear Age Series
  • Paperback: 964 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (January 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804726191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804726191
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,474,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hershberg's outstanding, balanced biography lifts the self-imposed secrecy surrounding a key architect of U.S. Cold War policy and of the nuclear age. James Bryant Conant (1893-1978), while president of Harvard University and as scientific adviser to the Roosevelt administration, advised FDR of the feasibility of building an atomic bomb; his recommendations spurred the secret crash program that culminated in the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A liaison between the White House and Manhattan Project scientists, Conant in 1945 gave Truman fateful advice on where the new weapon should be dropped. Hershberg, a historian at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C., reveals that although Conant publicly supported U.S. postwar nuclear preparedness, he lobbied secretly for a U.S.-led global nuclear moratorium, a proposal that was ignored. Raised in a working-class Boston suburb, the dapper, coolly rational Harvard educator emerges as a highly contradictory figure: a Cold Warrior haunted by doomsday fears, a chemist who worked on poison gas in WW I, a staunch opponent of Truman's development of the hydrogen bomb who later advocated deployment of "tactical" nuclear weapons to contain the purported Soviet menace to Western Europe. While Conant defended academic freedom against the McCarthyite witch hunt, he nevertheless endorsed a policy of automatically dismissing any faculty member who refused to name associates who had attended communist meetings. Evidence set forth here suggests that Conant's Harvard administration turned over confidential information about students to the FBI. Hershberg also skillfully probes Conant's multiple roles as Eisenhower's draconian high commissioner in occupied Germany, critic of U.S. public schools, proponent of massive federal programs to transform the black underclass, and prescient advocate of solar energy. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Conant, one of the most prominent educators of the this century, served his country in many capacities throughout his long career. Hershberg, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, has produced a massive biography, well written and extensively researched, detailing in particular Conant's contributions toward the development of the American nuclear arsenal. Rising to the presidency of Harvard from his position as a relatively unknown chemistry professor, Conant also wrote extensively on the role of education in a democratic society. Although present at the creation, he was never comfortable with the uncertain power of atomic energy and opposed America's increasing reliance on nuclear weaponry for defense. One of the original "Wise Men" of the Cold War era, Conant's participation in one of our country's most dynamic periods is, thanks to Hershberg, now much better understood. Recommended for academic collections.
- Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James D. Hobbs on January 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Great biography about James Conant because it covers a lot. It's great for what it's presenting to the reader. However, I have one complaint about it. The book (obviously) focuses on nuclear weaponry and the Cold War. Not only was he a scientist involved in the atomic bomb, but he was an IMPORTANT American educator from Harvard, too.
He contributed much to American education and the book doesn't give enough coverage about his influence in education. This is not the book to read even if you want to get information on his issues with education. His autobiography "My Several Lives" is excellent because in that book he gives a balance to all of his contributions to American (and world) society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alex on May 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
The book is perferct and gives full information about Conant's participation in Manhattan Project, wich was my initial reason for possessing it. I recommend it with no hesitations whatsoever.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 1998
Format: Paperback
Hey, I read this book. Unsure if anyone else did. It was great. I don't think the author's wife, mother, or so-called best friend Mark have read this book. I learned a lot. It is very heavy, buy the paperback version. It is sure good that James Conant did not blow up the world - otherwise the author, Jim Hershberg, would not have been able to travel to over 100 countries in his life and win the World Trip award. Buy this book. Buy 10 copies, give to your friends.
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