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109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos Hardcover – 15 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; 1st Edition edition (15 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743250079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743250078
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.6 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,427,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The Manhattan Project was a chapter of history rich in the drama of human strengths and frailties, as Jennet Conant chronicles in her illuminating "109 East Palace."... Yet, for all the doubts and hardships, the scientists and workers at Los Alamos were part of something extraordinary.... Thanks to Conant's vivid book, we understand why." -- "BusinessWeek" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jennet Conant's profiles have appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Newsweek, and The New York Times. She was given unrestricted access to Loomis' and Conant's papers, as well as to previously unpublished letters and documents, and she interviewed Loomis' many family members, friends, and colleagues. The granddaughter and grand niece of two of the scientists from the Tuxedo Park community, she is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Columbia University's School of Journalism. She lives in New York City and Sag Harbor with her husband, "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft, and their son.

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THERE WAS SOMETHING about the man, that was all there was to it. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Robinson on 22 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
About 20 miles or so north west of Santa Fe in the central hills and mountains of New Mexico, USA, is the town of Los Alamos, the home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the birthplace of the nuclear bomb. This book describes that town and the people that developed the bomb during the 30 months leading up to the first test explosion. It is beautifully written book, easy to read, and it brings a human touch to the story, but it merits just 4 stars. The problem is simple: competition. Right now as it was released in 2005 it has an almost direct competitor, the 750 page American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Also, a quick GOOGLE search will show that there are many books and articles on Oppenheimer and Los Alamos going back at least 4 or 5 decades. Plus there have been books and articles on the Oppenheimer-Lawrence relationship. I had already read at least two books including the 1968 book Lawrence and Oppenheimer by Nuel Pharr Davis, and I read it thirty years ago, plus there are many others, and one or two movies, now so long ago that I now forget which book I read and which I did not, but I did read the Davis book and it had a lot of similar information. So this book is not new and it has competition that other new book is better - in my humble opinion. In any case, this is a good book, but because of the competition just 4 stars.
This book is a bit different from the others in that it involves manily the 30 months leading up to the summer of 1945 at Los Alamos. It describes a number of the key people and the not so well known support staff, and it describes how they were hired.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By kindler on 28 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A brilliant account of the Manhattan Project, the development of the atomic bomb, and its key players and after-effects. I have sampled many books on this subject, varying from very factual accounts of the science and politics to very personalised memoirs and biographies. This is the only book so far on the subject that I have managed to read all the way to the end without skipping anything. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the subject.

It is very easy to follow, even for those who know little about the history, and it presents the story and the facts and the people in a very human way. By the end of the book, which ends with the last days of several of the key players, I was left feeling like I knew these people, touched by their passing and taking a moment to pause and consider their lives and work and how everything came together to form what is now regarded as one of the most tragic offences in military history, a unique episode in our semi-recent past. I did find myself having several of those "what if?" moments where you consider how one minor detail being different could literally have changed the course of history on a worldwide scale. This is particularly true of Dorothy's part in the project and it is fascinating to see this civilian/military endeavour described almost first hand.

Having already been familiar with the basic facts from history lessons, I found myself appreciating what I already knew on a much more personal level and in a much more detailed and 'real' way - thinking about these big historical events in everyday terms is often difficult and most people tend to retain only important dates and one-line biographies, rather than an accurate overall picture.
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By G Taylor on 21 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read this book because it was on the Book Club list. I cannot pretend a serious interest in the subject, however some of this book was extremely interesting and informative. Far too much of it was devoted to background material, with only passing reference to really fascinating items. I felt the writer had included every single fact available. I actually skipped quite a large portion to get to the point of the book, and then read the rest later when I was better able to recognise the context.
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