- Hardcover: 447 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Printing edition (October 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0252022963
- ISBN-13: 978-0252022968
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 1.5 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,871,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Atomic Spaces: Living on the Manhattan Project 1st Printing Edition
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From Library Journal
In this unusual cultural history, Hales (art history, Univ. of Illinois) explains how instant towns were created by military fiat during World War II with the sole purpose of developing the atomic bomb. The three principal sites were Los Alamos, New Mexico; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington. Physical traces of these sites remain today?stockpiles of weapons, tanks of untreatable waste, noxious regions, and injured workers. While Hales's detailed history is more than the casual reader may wish to tackle, the author's exploration of the story's human and mythological elements should broaden the book's appeal. The first half looks at how sites were acquired and the ethical questions raised, while the rest deals with occupations, race relations, leisure activities, and thought control within the three main sites. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.?Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Runner up for the Parkman Prize for 98, awarded for the best book in American history, by the Society for American Historians: "In an extraordinarily imaginative interdisciplinary treatment of architecture, community planning, technology, environmental history, politics, and race and gender relations, Hales raises searching questions about the broadest implications of the coming atomic age." "Hales combines careful research with stylistic power, a playful intellect, a strong visual sense, and an unobtrusive but keen moral sensibility." - Paul Boyer, Lingua Franca "Paints a vivid picture of what it must have been like to live and work at the three atomic development sites in the 1940's-Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Hanford... Especially interesting are the chapters on the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, on censorship restrictions and use of coded language at the sites, and on the first blast at Trinity and its effects." - George M. Eberhart, College and Research Libraries News "While Hales's detailed history is more than the casual reader may wish to tackle, the author's exploration of the story's human and mythological elements should broaden the book's appeal... Recommended for academic and larger public libraries." - Gary D. Barber, Library Journal "Hales's extensive research into the relationships among the military, contractors, scientists, local and state authorities and workers forms the core of this book. He provides a fascinating glimpse into the complex and overlapping interests and intentions that structured relationships at the sites across lines of gender, race and class." - Grant H. Kester, The Nation "Drawing on memoirs, declassified government files, unpublished letters and diaries, Hales ... has assembled a cultural history of the Manhattan Engineer District-more familiarly, the Manhattan Project... This is an engaging book encompassing everything from utopian architectural plans to the subject of race relations and the role of women. Sixty black-and-white photographs-archival photos and Hale's own photo essay-round out the book." - Publishers Weekly "Hales makes a signally important contribution to the burgeoning literature occasioned by the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb... No syllabus of study of the atomic age will now be complete without this book, and it should equally enrich any review of the complex interrelationship of technology and culture." - L. W. Moore, Choice "Hales' cultural history offers new perspectives on the dawn of the atomic era, and on its continuing consequences." - Science "A sociologist and historian's dream, a thorough and overwhelmingly detailed history of the project, not the research or the bomb, but the people, facilities, organization, and social structure which grew into a huge national endeavor from 1942 to 1945... The Atomic Age buff will be thrilled with Hales' research and detail." - William D. Bushnell, Independent Publisher "Hale's book is a perceptive, well-documented account of the atomic spaces of the Project. His inclusion of eerie photographs, especially those that advertised the sites to prospective employees, effectively illustrates the gap between the ideal image and the dangerous reality - not only of the Manhattan Project sites but of our post-atomic world in general." - Cindy Hendershot, Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies "An impressive achievement, blending the history of science and of technology and the study of American culture and politics. The Manhattan Project was science's greatest contribution to the "Good War" and a founding event of postwar American science as well. Hales gives us a novel view of this difficult birth, asking us to recognize the dark side of our creation: its hazardous effects on workers, its terrible toll on the environment, and its antidemocratic and militaristic influence on our culture and politics." - Russell Olwell, ISIS "A professor of the history of architecture and art, Hales has an excellent eye for the vocabulary of photographs, the deeper meanings of social and cultural history, and the language of the Manhattan Project... [An] intriguing, pathbreaking study. - R. Hal Williams, The Journal of American History "Hales is at his best in his discussion of town planning, house types, and daily life in this jerry-built world. He is exceptionally perceptive in his analysis of graphic images. The stark 'Flow Circuit-Water Plant B-Area,' which depicts Hanford's intake and release of water from the Columbia, speaks volumes... Filled with intriguing observations and insights." - Ferenc M. Szasz, Pacific Historical Review ADVANCE PRAISE "A passionate work that unmasks the encrypted histories and seemingly exotic environments of the Manhattan Project. Hales shows that the Project's half-life should be measured in the persistence of technologized values, dehumanized personal relationships, and hardened bureaucratic locations in American culture that seem to be protected from scrutiny or critique." - Eric J. Sandeen, author of Picturing an Exhibition: "The Family of Man" and 1950s America "Superb! Hales combines careful scholarly research with stylistic power, a playful intellect, and a profound moral sensibility in a wholly unique way." - Paul S. Boyer, author of By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age "In Atomic Spaces, Peter Hales adds an entirely new dimension to our understanding of the effort to create the atomic bomb. In his intensively-researched, elegantly-written account of the major sites of the Manhattan Project, he provides a creative interpretation of the development of new communities and their impact on the men and women who made the first atomic weapons." - Allan M. Winkler, author of Life Under a Cloud: American Anxiety About the Atom --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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For example, the experimental physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, Chinese-born (and a woman) who made an important contribution at Oak Ridge is omitted completely. Dorothy McKibben, the Los Alamos gatekeeper, a resourceful, indespensable cornerstone of the Los Alamos team, gets one brief mention with her name badly misspelled, and then only to observe that she was not invited to the Trinity test.
The author especially despises any contact between whites and native peoples, and disgust simply drips from him as he describes a celebratory feast held for the physicists at San Ildefonso Pueblo in 1945. Edith Warner, who ran the teahouse at Otawi Bridge, is presented as an Eastern aesthete who hopelessly romanticized the Pueblo Indians, and longed to be accepted by them. The author quickly changes the subject before he need mention that she lived with Tilano, a native, for the last twenty years of both their lives.
The last photograph in the text shows two weary medical doctors standing at ground zero in Hiroshima. The author comments on their clothing and camera, and then says "It is a tourist picture of visitors at the site." He fails to note that the man on the right is Dr. John S. Lawrence, brother of the Nobel physicist Ernest O. Lawrence, inventor of the cyclotron atom smasher and head of the isotope separation plant at Oak Ridge. One can only imagine the complexity of reaction and emotion entailed in this journey, for this man, but this is just the sort of atomic space this book has no interest in examining.
At the end of the text is a tepid 'meditation' in black and white, entitled 'Eleven Photographs', all taken by the author at Hanford and Richland, WA in the early nineties. I suppose they are meant to echo the famous 'Magnificent Eleven', the surviving snaps of Robert Capa's shaking, crazy-brave captures in the surf of Omaha Beach on D-Day. If you need to be reminded of the absolutely desperate imperative behind the Manhattan Project, go check these out again.
Be prepared: this is not quick reading!
I like how this book glorifies no one. It also talks about many "forgotten" victims of the Manhattan PRoject; those who were evicted from their property, the "underclass" workers, those who lived near Alamogordo and sufferred from nuclear fallout. I learned information about Gen. Groves and how he oversaw the project. It spoke also about the scientists, but not just about the scientists. This isn't a book about the making of the bomb; it's a book about the culture. At times it was slow---I skimmed about 100 pages at the beginning, which I very rarely do--- but there should be something for you in this book if you're interested enough in the topic to read this review! I found especially interesting the medical testing (or lack thereof), the radiation safety protoocols (or lack thereof) and the fallout (literal and sociological) of the Alamogordo test. These areas were fascinating to me. Also, while I already knew about Feynman's battle with the censors, it's fun to read again!
Although the outcome was "successful," I wonder if the true price of the atomic age was worth it? It certainly came with a high price tag, much, much more than money.
This book is a must read in order to see the real Manhattan Project and not the glorified picture presented by so many other authors. This is a really great book, about a really great endeavour, done by the average man with his usual weakness.