- Paperback: 736 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (August 6, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684824140
- ISBN-13: 978-0684824147
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 201 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb Reprint Edition
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An engrossing history of the scientific discoveries, political maneuverings, and cold-war espionage leading to the creation of mankind's most destructive weapon.
Includes 94 archival photographs and a glossary with brief descriptions of the hundreds of people interviewed and discussed in the book. Author Richard Rhodes won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for his previous atomic tome, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.
From Publishers Weekly
Rhodes epic history of the hydrogen bomb and the Cold War arms race spent two weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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If you struggled with TMOTAB, you'll doubtless find this an easier read. The science and physics have been streamlined and are easier to follow, the character introductions aren't quite as in-depth, and Rhodes has mostly done away with the heavy philosophy that tended to slow down that book's narrative. It's also a good 175 pages shorter, and the story moves along at a brisker pace. As I mentioned, there are some really fascinating parts, including detailed explanations of how the "Mike" device worked, insights into how deep the Soviets had infiltrated the Manhattan Project, and a rare look inside the Soviet atomic bomb program.
Unfortunately, if you ARE a fan of TMOTAB (and it seems like a lot of people are), this book also does away with many of the elements that made it so compelling. The characters are so thinly developed they might as well have Mafia nicknames (Lemay the Creepy Warmonger, Teller the Backstabber, Oppenheimer the Scapegoat, etc.). The pacing is all over the place; the first half is chock full of lengthy passages describing spies moving about the US, complete with explanations of where they slept, what restaurants they ate at, what train they took to get from one city to another, etc. The first Soviet nuclear test doesn't occur until 3-5th of the way in, and from that point on that book essentially races to the finish line. The actual "making of the hydrogen bomb" only occupies three chapters, much of which is devoted to attacking Edward Teller at every possible turn. There's no doubt that Dr. Teller was a flawed and extremely controversial figure, but Richard Rhodes spends so much time dragging him through the mud that any pretext of journalistic integrity has essentially evaporated by the last page.
"The Making of the Atomic Bomb" is not a flawless book; the first third drags a lot and Richard Rhodes is a little too in love with his own writing. It's still a much deeper, richer, more complex, and more satisfying read than "Dark Sun." I'd read two or three chapters of TMOTAB and go on an hour-long walk to process what I'd just read; I'd read 50 pages of "Dark Sun" and basically shrug my shoulders. To provide a relevant analogy, TMOTAB is a Fat Man implosion bomb - big, clumsy, and complicated, but nonetheless a monumental achievement that leaves a lasting impression. "Dark Sun" is akin to Andrei Sakharov's Layer Cake - a series of alternating heavy and light elements that provides a sufficiently large bang, but isn't particularly memorable when compared with the competition.
All five stars, highly recommended to everyone who wants to know what REALLY happened after the Russians exploded their bomb without much research, just copying stolen US documents.
That explosion in 1949 triggered the 'super bomb' research in the USA supported by some and bitterly opposed by others here but performed also mostly by Sakcharov in USSR without any hesitation.
The author writes explicitly about MAD, 'mutual assured destruction', that resulted from possession of hydrogen bombs by USA and USSR and, hopefully, still holds.
At the end of the book he adds his own comment that put some nuances on MAD. Some of them are obvious: US generals could speak quite 'freely', I doubt that the Russian generals could. Also, the newer nuclear powers, especially North Korea, is not a really a nuclear power and not likely to attack South Korea anytime soon (if ever).
The MAD still holds and appears to be an intrinsic part of the world history, that is history after the fission was discovered in 1939.
The author should be admired for his long and comprehensive work on this book.
Most recent customer reviews
Very surprising about the amount of spying, petty government officials and inefficiencies involved in the process.