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The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians Paperback – February 10, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (February 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579128084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579128081
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. More than 60 years since WWII was ended by two atomic detonations, the Manhattan Project that made them possible still carries iconic weight, both as an incredible achievement of science and engineering and as the opening salvo in the nuclear arms race. This collection of essays, including excerpts from 45 books and almost twice as many articles, is more than worthy of its subject. The basic science behind the project is detailed in a number of lively accounts by scientists who worked on it; they also recount the lighter side of the experience, including the characters they worked alongside and the camaraderie among them. In-depth analysis of policy and ethical issues take on the justification for Truman's decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki (with fine examples from both sides of the argument) and the still-urgent need for global arms control (as argued in a 2007 Wall Street Journal article by Henry Kissinger et al). With a comprehensive reach (going as far back as 1934 to find a charming story on Oppenheimer, "The Absentminded Professor"), Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation and an experienced editor (Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project) does a masterful job covering all aspects of the world-changing enterprise and its legacy.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"I was enthralled by these vivid and compelling accounts of personalities and events at Los Alamos and elsewhere that produced the Bomb, ended a World War, and transformed our lives forever."–Bruce Babbitt, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Governor of Arizona --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

SUMMARY--- I enjoyed the book, and was glad I read it.
Andy in Washington
The collection of notes, book excerpts and letters were well organized (roughly chronologically) and put together very nicely.
The Manhattan Project is a excellent book on the making of the world's first atomic bomb.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful By B James on November 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Manhattan Project is a wonderful compendium of personal accounts and anecdotes not readily available otherwise. The accounts come from people in all walks of Manhattan Project life. If you are a Manhattan Project buff, as I am, you'll be fascinated by the personal glimpses into the lives of military and civilian participants, their spouses and friends--and not just the famous scientists and military leaders. I have only one caveat: if your interest in the Manhattan Project is new, or you are not already familiar with the historical and scientific details of the Project, this book is not a good place to start--read Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb." This book is a collage of little insights into the personal lives of the Project's participants; it is not a detailed, chronological military or scientific history. However, for those steeped in the Manhattan Project, it is a treasure.
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Chernick on March 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am a babyboomer, born in 1947 after World War II was over. But my father had worked at Aberdeen Proving Ground during World War II and entered the nuclear filed after the war becoming a reactor theorist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. So the Manhattan Project and many of the physcists associated with it along woth the post-war movement for peaceful development of nuclear energy became a natural part of my life. This book tells the story about how men like Einstein, Szilard, Bohr the British scientists and British intelligence made discoveries about nuclear energy and the potential for nuclear chain reactions to recognize the potential for the development of a superbomb by the Nazis. After Einstein's letter to Rossevelt, cooperation between the US and Britian and the birth of the Manhattan Project began shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The plants at Hanford and Oak Ridge and the research lab at Los Alamos became the key sites for the project. The book shows how the leadership of Groves and Oppenheimer lead to the rapid development of the bomb over a two year period and as the Nazi were defeated how the goal shifted from the urgency of beating the Germans to the development of a bomb to question of whether to use it on Japan to put a quicker end to the war in Japan.

The book tells the story of the lives of the key figures during this time with Oppenheimer and Groves playing the biggest role. But it also relates many facts and opinions out through the highly classified writings and documents of the period that are now public information.

We learn about security, espionage, difficult decisions and controversy. A lot of interesting discussion is presented about the varying views of Truman's decision to drop the bomb on Japan.
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139 of 160 people found the following review helpful By G. Spearman on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
When I added this book to my Christmas list I must have skimmed over the part about it being just a compilation of other writer's work. Upon receiving it, I anxiously opened the book looking forward to a story describing the history of the Manhattan Project. Instead, I found, a mildly disjointed compilation of excerpts from books, articles, and official reports. Honestly, I have nobody but myself to blame for not reading the book description. Having said that, I can't really recommend this book. I'm giving it three stars only because it does contain real factual information (it doesn't get more real than regurgitating other people's work). On the whole it was a boring read. The last section on the world after the bomb was particularly boorish in it's heavy emphasis on revisionist and apologist history on the use of the bomb against Japan.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on May 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here is a careful rendition of a "piecing together" of select released articles that recreate the trail of evidence providing the full story behind the development of the Atomic Bomb. It is a well-known story with its own built in mini and melodramas, each with their own heroes and villains -- all acting under the existential pressures of Hitler's rise to prominence and eventually his "military "cake-walk" through Europe.

The difference between this version and that of Richard Rhodes' own two seminal books on both bombs, is that here we have excerpts from the original source documents that for 60 years were held behind a wall of national security secrecy. But now, finally, we have them assembled in a very readable format without intermediary commentaries or interpretative filters. With the missing filters, the reader is able to make up his own mind and draw his own conclusions about the wisdom of, and risks involved, in embarking on a speculative venture in which American and British Scientists' reputations were on the line. Together they were following the trail of a number of unproven theoretical hunches that while plausible their success was by no means a foregone conclusion.

Likewise, the reader is also able to draw his own conclusions about the personalities involved, about their brilliance, their loyalty, etc. We see the personality clashes, the sheer force of committed teamwork and what it can do in the face of some of the most daunting problems any nation has ever had to face. As well, we see how a lumbering bureaucracy sprung to life when it was needed and turned what became an existential crisis for the nation (as well as for the allied side) into one of history's most successful enterprises.
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