Customer Reviews


3 Reviews


3 star
0

2 star
0

1 star
0

 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial but compelling., 2 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Heisenberg's War: The Secret History Of The German Bomb (Paperback)
Attempts to unravel the murky history of Nazi Germany's wartime nuclear programme usually cast Werner Heisenberg in one of two starkly different roles. On one view, Heisenberg wholeheartedly tried to make a nuclear bomb for the Nazis, failed in this attempt and tried to exculpate himself from possible charges of incompetence on the grounds that he hadn't really been trying. Another view is that Heisenberg made a quiet but determined effort to mislead his colleagues and superiors about the feasibility of a nuclear bomb, effectively cooking up a story so that a German atomic bomb would remain an unexplored and distant possibility. This second interpretation of Heisenberg's wartime career is that upheld by Thomas Powers in this book. Powers' argument is essentially in two parts: thesis (a) is that one crucial factor in Nazi Germany's failure to develop an atomic bomb was the reluctance of its senior nuclear scientists to place such a device in Hitler's hands and thesis (b) is that the crucial impetus in de-railing the Nazi atomic bomb project came from deliberate obstruction on the part of Heisenberg. Since Powers' book appeared, his thesis (b) has attracted the most attention, with other writers denouncing Heisenberg as a seasoned liar and inept collaborator with Hitler's state, and portraying Powers as trying to whitewash an unreformed Nazi sympathiser. In fact, the more strident anti-Heisenberg claims are often speculative and badly supported, and the ambivalence of Heisenberg's position in Hitler's Germany is well-captured by Powers himself. Powers depicts Heisenberg as a man whose essential love of country gave him a terrible political blindness but who was still not prepared to exert himself to the utmost in giving Hitler nuclear arms. On one key point, the historical record seems clear: no one in wartime Germany had remotely feasible ideas about how to construct atomic weapons - why that lack of knowledge persisted is, at this distance, a difficult matter to assess. Powers maintains that the failure to perform certain key calculations can be explained as resulting from moral qualms about the likely results of demonstrating that a nuclear weapon was practical. As Michael Frayn argues in his afterword to his fascinating play 'Copenhagen' (which was inspired by arguments in Powers' book), Powers makes an interesting case for thesis (a) but perhaps doesn't quite convince about thesis (b) - that there was a lack of resolve, largely morally motivated, in Germany's best nuclear physicists when it came to making atom bombs seems correct but the secondary thesis, that this lack of resolve was deliberately fostered by Heisenberg, remains deeply controversial. Still, Powers' book is thoughtful, extremely thorough and highly readable throughout. Read it with an open mind and you should find it a fascinating exploration of problems of historical interpretation and gripping moral dramas of action and conscience.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book, 21 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think it was one of the best (if not the best) book I read about Nazi Germany Physics. Its quite detailed and every claim is well supported by an evidence. It has very interesting facts in it (e.g. Heisenberg's mother wrote a letter to Himmler's mother when Heisenberg was accused of being 'not a Nazi' :) Also plans to kidnap Heisenberg from Switzerland to USA to prevent German bomb (which was never going to be build anyway :) I truly enjoyed and learn a lot form this book. So I fully recommend to anyone who is interested in.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Encyclopaedic review of the available evidence, though still leaves ..., 23 Feb. 2015
By 
A. B. Fisher (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Encyclopaedic review of the available evidence, though still leaves me in some doubt as to Heisenberg's real position. Surely the most revealing evidence is the Farm Hall tapes; the surprise they all expressed on hearing of Hiroshima speaks volumes. This early edition needed a bit more editing there are irritating repeats in the text.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Heisenberg's War: The Secret History Of The German Bomb
Heisenberg's War: The Secret History Of The German Bomb by Thomas Powers (Paperback - 11 Aug. 2000)
£15.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews