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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
"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
on 3 July 2004
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
on 30 October 2007
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
on 25 September 2011
For the more academic types, many of the subjects encompassed by this very readable story of the history of atom bomb development are not given enough detail to be of any worth. However, that said, I have found it a much easier read than the detailed histories of the subject by Richard Rhodes. What de Groot manages to accomplish very well is sufficient detail to keep the average reader interested and to provide a comprehensive overview to what I have found to be a massive subject with many authors, some good, some awful. I read it first as a library book whilst doing research for a lecture and since I have bought a paperback copy of it to read again. It is very well written and will provide other avenues of research for the enthusiast as they discover in general terms the story of the atom bomb. I liked it and would recommend it as a very good starting point for investigation into the subject, for the average reader as well as someone engaging on an academic course of study. Well worth the money I paid to buy it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2013
Outstanding appraisal of the political and social impact of nuclear weapons since the atom was first split.. Extremely well written and is knowledgeable and detailed without being at all "academic". Degroot manages to intersperse some pretty grim subject matter with hilariously funny moments and anecdotes, which had me laughing out loud. Its frightening to read how scientists and politicians managed to manipulate each other for their own ends and how we, the genersl public, have been treated ss gullible idiots....especially when it comes to civil defence. The science stuff is fascinating and the physics background easily accessible to the non scientist. Best non fiction book I've read for a long time.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2009
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2013
A very interesting read, informative and well pitched for the layman, you won't be subsumed by nuclear physics but nor is the book too noddy and big ears. A very good introduction to the subject but it effectively runs out beyond 2001... It would be interesting to know the state of the respective nuclear arsenals now in 2013. Highly recommended.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2011
when you get to the end, your amazed at how we are not all star dust,and the fact the wanted to nuke the moon as a show of bravado is beyond a leap of stupidity.
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