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The Bomb: A Life Hardcover – 26 Mar 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New edition edition (26 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674017242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674017245
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.4 x 3.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 597,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Gerard DeGroot...has produced a timely account of mankind's most awful invention, wrly wrapped as a biography...This is a clever cocktail of reportage, analysis and anecdote, from the physics of the bomb's conception to the B-movies it inspired (notably "Night of the Lepus", in which the world is threatened by giant mutant rabbits.) There are also some well-aimed blows at the late Ronald Reagan, who despite hagiographical obituaries tinkered with the superpower balance with a dangerous whimsy.--Peter Millar"The Times" (08/14/2004)

Book Description

An extraordinary, compelling account of the life and times of the atom bomb, from one of the country's leading historians (2003-06-23) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William Holmes on 3 July 2005
Format: Paperback
"The Bomb: A Life" is a highly readable history of nuclear weapons, from the Manhattan Project through the end of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear terrorism. I picked the book up on a whim and soon found that DeGroot's style kept me turning the pages.
DeGroot's book is a fairly high level overview of the development of the atomic bomb and its even more horrific successor, the hydrogen bomb. It also explores the challenges of integrating these earthshaking weapons into military and political doctrine, with a special emphasis on the formative period of the 1950s and early sixties.
But "The Bomb" is more than just a military or geopolitical history. Degroot gives equal time to domestic developments provoked by the Bomb, such as disarmament movements, the grim fate of "downwinders," and artifacts of bomb-driven cultural history like Bert the Turtle, "Dr. Stangelove," Doomtown, "The Day After," and the Doomsday Clock. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is its description of the interplay between nuclear weapons and society--how the bomb changed culture, and how culture responded by changing the bomb.
DeGroot is an equal opportunity critic, and he muses about both the excesses of nuclear warriors and the quixotic struggles of those who pressed for disarmament. In the end, he demurs--"a final verdict on the Bomb is impossible."
If you are looking for a readable overview of the development and cultural impact of nuclear weapons, "The Bomb: A Life" is a good and sobering place to start.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Nozza on 3 July 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read both "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" and "Dark Sun" I approached this book with caution - I wondered how could anyone hope to add anything significant, or new, to history of the bomb?
This book is more of a social history of, rather than an analysis of, the development of the bomb. Eminently readable, this book complements the other "authoritative" texts, gleaning new light on a disturbing history.
Throughout the book we are reminded of the horrors of war, and the horrors of using nuclear weapons.
This book gets my vote for non-fiction book of the year.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Bennett on 30 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A throughly engaging and well written book which deals mostly with the socially and political aspects of The Bomb. In the process it does a very good job of highlighting some of the absurd decisions that were made in its development and how we came to have several thousands warheads on each side. The authour does offer criticism but this is even handed and isn't just directed at either the pro-nuke or anti-nuke and is really of a politically neutral nature.

Overall an excellent and informative read and well recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Huckleberry Finn on 21 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
A top rate overview of 'The Bomb'. It resists the urge to delve to deep into the rabbit holes and sticks to broad strokes. It is refreshingly un-biased, DeGoot turns his ascerbic wit against both sides of the debate with equal aplomb. A must for anyone who wants to understand one of the central drivers behind post-war political and social devlopments and policies.
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