This book exceeded my expectations. I was expecting the book to be difficult to get into, and dry due to the subject matter (despite being about the atomic bomb).
However, it was very readable, with excellent footnotes on many pages to explain certain elements further (often revealing after the event information to bolster the story).
The author has a way with words which allow him to tell factual events like a story in very well managed sections. They dont last forever, and the author will break up a story if needs be and return to it later.
I cannot comment on how factually accurate it is, but I believe it is well researched, and the author will actually point out if something he is writing about appears 'lost to history'
Its a big book, and good value for money. Anybody with an interest in war history or science will love this book. I thought I knew the history of atomic weapons quite well, but I learnt a lot from this book.
Any improvements... well the only one I can think of is that it becomes easy to lose track of the many characters you are introduced to (and there are lots). A double page spread of all of them with details of which side they were on and their role would help a bit. This is a minor criticism though, as I do think this is the best book on atomic history that Ive read.
*** edited - this section is actually at the back of the book. I didnt notice it until afterwards.
Just to provide a summary, the history of the atomic bomb, from the discovery of U235 fission through to the 1949 is covered in great detail. It covers participation from all countries, with a lot of detail about the US/Germany/UK/Russia involvement.
Its amazing to think that we only got the bomb as quick as we did because we BELIEVED that Germany would acquire it before us unless we worked faster and harder, and that spies in the programme readily gave secrets to Russia to ensure they had the bomb after the war was over to ensure no one country had access to such unlimited warfare capabilities.
This book makes the above very readable. Sometimes you cant get better than fact for a good story.
The only reason this book is a 4* and not a 5 is because I think the author covered 1960 to 2009 very quickly. Too quickly in fact. I know the book was 1939 to 1949.. but then why mention the 1960's stuff at all ? And the summary of the current status quo in 2008/9 seemed a bit brief in comparison. Anyways... a fantastic book.