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Nazi Science: Myth, Truth, And The German Atomic Bomb
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
This well written book is a thoughtful examination of the experience of German physicists during the Third Reich and is essentially a series of essays on the relationship between German science and the Nazi regime. There is strong topical integration of the essays and some overlap in content, though not to the point of being pointlessly repetitious.

Walker opens with a discussion of the career of Johannes Stark, the prominent experimental physicist who was a fervent Nazi and leader of the "German Physics" movement that regarded relativity and quantum theory as mistakes. Despite his professional prominence and early commitment to the Nazi movement, Stark and his supporters did not fare as well as expected under the Third Reich. His efforts to become the Fuhrer of German physics fell afoul of both professional resistance and vicious bureaucratic politics of the polycratic Nazi state. Over time, the Nazi leadership came to prefer less overtly Nazi physicists like Heisenberg, whose work promised useful technology.

Walker discusses Heisenberg's involvement with Nazis at length, showing his considerable involvement with the regime, including the PR tours he made in occupied Europe to bolster Nazi prestige. In a complementary discussion, Walker describes the Aryanization and subordination of the prominent Prussian Academy of Sciences to the Nazi state. Overall, this is an interesting discussion of what Walker describes as scientists as "fellow travelers." While not themselves Nazis, many, many prominent scientists were co-opted by the regime and served it faithfully. This occurred partly as a result of professional ambition and partly as a result of misdirected patriotism, though many of these individuals, like Heisenberg, were reactionary and nationalistic in their personal politics.

Walker concludes with an interesting discussion of the German nuclear project, Heiserberg's role, and the myths that grew up around the project after the war. Summarizing some of his prior work, he emphasizes that the German leadership elected, for several reasons, not to commit large resources to nuclear weapons development. The post-war actions of Heisenberg and other German physicists in obfuscating their roles during the war is discussed very well.
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on January 19, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Despite all the post war posturing and distortion of their actions, Walker shows that most German scientist helped the Nazi war effort willingly. First because they were Germans fighting for their country and secondly because science was apolitical. But the use of scientific discovery is political. The German physicist knew as much as the Allied scientist in 1942. But America choose to pursue the A bomb and the Nazis choose not to. There was never any Nazi A bomb nor did Germany ever have the resources available to create one. But the idea of a scientific "slow down" is shown to be a myth. Walker has done the best job so far of showing what was happening in nuclear physics in Germany during WWII.
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on February 24, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I actually stopped reading this book about halfway thru it. It sounds more like Gov't propaganda than anything factual. I've read several other very reputable books that completely contradict this one. I cannot recommend this one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The book is an invuable resource for people interested in the reality of the behavior of German scientists under Hitler, and their program for their self-serving propaganda afterward. The author was remarkably even-handed and even generous.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The author does a very good job of showing that not everything is black and white. The only comment that I can add is that what people do or say while they are working under an oppressive government can not always be used to prove how any individual really feels or thinks. In Germany, at that time, if an individual of Heisenberg's status spoke openly against the government then he would be risking more than just his job. At the very least he would have had all of his communications monitored, he and his family would have been watched, his travel would have been restricted and at most he could have been jailed or he could have quietly disappeared. If he did not try and sell the idea of continuing the work on either the reactor or some form of nuclear weapon then he would see his funding getting pulled and his position would be diminished.

As the author points out, it is never easy to clearly understand the thinking of an individual by what they say or even do. At one point Heisenberg felt that Hitler would win the war, so I am sure that he felt that he would have little control over the out come and he might as well take the most of any opportunity that could come up. Once it was clear that Hitler was not going to win then he had to rethink his strategy for keeping funding and making sure that his position in the scientific community did not diminish.
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7 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
this book dives into the science of the nazi war machine. it was very interesting for those of you who appreciate political science. it eliminates the myth of nazi's as shown through propiganda, and goes into the bare facts of this group. overall for fans of nazi writings, this is a must read
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1 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book, purchased used, arrived promptly and in superb condition. This is a well-researched, well-written book.
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