General Groves was the head of the Manhattan Project, which developed and built the atomic
bomb during World War II. This book is his own version of how it happened.
The book certainly confirms the legends about Groves being a colorful and
determined individual. Groves shamelessly includes in the book a copy of a memo from a
White House official saying that General Groves shouldn't be appointed head of the
project, because he "lacked the necessary tact" to deal with the scientists!
History Book Index - Hiroshima
Aftermath - The Enola Gay at Hiroshima
Explosive book doesn't bomb out on a radiant subject!
Groves gives an enjoyable and interesting account of what he did, and why he
did it. He is self-serving on rare occasions, but doesn't hesitate to include
incidents where he made a mistake. He also includes amusing stories such as
the raid on Fort Knox for hundreds of tons of silver for wire to use in a sophisticated
machine (copper was too hard to get due to its other uses in the war effort); and the tale
of the Treasury Department auditors who required DuPont Corporation to return thirty-one
cents of their one dollar profit on their "cost plus a dollar" project to
construct a factory costing tens of millions of dollars. The flow of the book
occasionally suffers, because Groves will break the continuity to follow a special topic
all the way through to the end of the war. However it is still great reading.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in the subject, or anyone interested
in management of large projects.
If the first 270 pages of this book had been published
separately, they would have made up a lively, insightful, beautifully written history of
theoretical physics and the men and women who plumbed the mysteries of the atom.
Along with the following 600 pages, they become a sweeping epic, filled with terror
and pity, of the ultimate scientific quest: the development of the ultimate weapon.
Rhodes is a peerless explainer of difficult concepts; he is even better at chronicling the
personalities who made the discoveries that led to the Bomb. Niels Bohr
dominates the first half of the book as J. Robert Oppenheimer does the second; both men
were gifted philosophers of science as well as brilliant physicists.
central irony of this book, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, is that the
greatest minds of the century contributed to the greatest destructive force in history.
I.I. Rabi, Nobel Laureate for Physics, 1944
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