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Before The Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima Hardcover – April 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Also in 1895 Rontgen discovered X-Rays.
In 1905 a young man no one had heard of published three articles in one issue of the most promient journal of Physics. The first would have gained him an honorable mention in the chemistry texts of today. The second would get him a Nobel prize, and become the foundation of what we now know of as television. The third article was the theory of relativity.
Forty years later Paul Tibbets, piloting the 'Enola Gay' dropped the 'Little Boy' atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
This book is the story of those fifty years. It's a fascinating story of people with genius level minds making new breakthroughs in physics nearly every year. It is also a story of people, of Lise Meitner making a magnificant discovery but having it ignored because she was female.
Those fifty years transformed the world of physics from a backwater of levers and pulleys into the queen of all the sciences.
Preston is adept at describing the technical issues so that even a casual reader can understand how the different experiments and theories contributed to advances. And she is adept at describing personality issues: ". . . Groves had also alienated Ernest Lawrence . . . he warned the Nobel prize winner that he had better do a good job since his reputation depended on it. Lawrence replied, "My reputation is already made. It is yours that depends on the outcome of the Manhattan project." "
The artwork by van der Goes, The Fall, hints at the origin of the title and is used to create an intriguing dust jacket for the hardcover edition.
"Before the Fallout" is well worth reading for anyone interested in the question of how we went from a world of gun powder and swords to nuclear weapons in a mere half-century.
I have had the pleasure to meet Diana Preston and hear her speak at the Los Angeles Times Book Fair. She is a regular attendee. I have read all but her first book and have felt her "Lusitania" her greatest achievement but this, her newest, is just as wonderful.
The book is well organized and has many characters that you find easy to follow via each mini biography throughout the narrative. The book ends with really two epilogues. (I do like a good epilog too.) The first tells what happened to each participant after WWII and the last is a "what if" analysis this is most interesting as it puts many of the events in the book into a broad context and points out the individual difference each scientist made. I just loved Preston's comment at the end of the book... "History....even the history of science... is inherently about people, how they thought, what they did with their thoughts, and how they interacted with the individuals immediately around them and then with society and the greater world order. All involved in this story....regardless of race, sex. creed, age, or intellectual ability...Read more ›
I enjoy reading biographies, books on science, history, WWII, and many other subjects but this book hit those four mentioned at the same time. The book was crafted in such a way to keep the pace flowing and at times seem pressing as if I didn’t know what would happen by the end of the book even though we all know how things ended at Hiroshima. For the scientists involved Preston almost presents mini-biographies for them as she explains their scientific work and its contribution to the progression of nuclear weapons. She also succeeds at putting a human face on many of the scientists in this book. She presents the material and scientists in such a light that you can almost feel the weight of their decisions when trying to decide whether to build a bomb or not.
She presents many stories and moral dilemmas through the book that will make you question your own thoughts on how the use of the atomic bombs were handled. She also presents the “what-if” scenarios that show how close the history of the atom bomb came to being completely different on many different occasions.
After reading this book I’m still not sure how I feel about the dropping of the atom bombs but I do know that I now know much more than before.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story begins with the discovery of X-rays and ends with the Atomic Bomb. The whole history of atomic physics. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Eric Mascarin Perigault
I enjoyed this book very much. It is a more personal than usual history of the physics of the A-bomb, its construction, its delivery, and the politics of the entire process. Read morePublished on June 1, 2014 by Richard J. Field
Per a 16 year old that chose it off a high school AP class book list, this is slow reading, but really interesting.Published on March 24, 2014 by reallybusyshopper
While this book looks long it reads fast, it's an entrancing look at the early history of nuclear physics. Read morePublished on September 6, 2013 by epstites
This item adequately does the job that I bought it for. Would definitely buy this item again if I ever needed to.Published on June 20, 2013 by Eagle Eye
This is a fascinating history of nuclear physics leading up to the development of the atomic bomb. Unfortunately the electronic version contains numerous typographical and... Read morePublished on February 16, 2011 by Futbol Fan
Yes, the advances in physics were tremendous. Stop for a moment - this book gives you the humanistic view of that ensuing the discoveries. Read morePublished on November 27, 2007 by Casca
BEFORE THE FALLOUT: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima
--By Diana Preston Reviewed by Philip Henry
"My God, What have we done? Read more