Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939-49 Hardcover – 5 Mar 2009
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I never read such a good, comprehensive account as Jim Baggott's... Highly recommended.' -- A.N. Wilson in the Reader's Digest
The best popular science book of the year to date by far (April 2009), this is an epic journey through the development of atomic power and the atom bomb during the second world war.
-- Brian Clegg, www.popularscience.co.uk
‘I [have] read everything on the subject that I could lay my hands on, but I never read such a good, comprehensive account as Jim Baggott’s… Highly recommended.’ (Reader’s Digest)
'High drama… fascinating reading.’ (BBC Focus Magazine)
‘Grimly compelling. Thorough and accessible.’ (Daily Telegraph)
‘The best popular science book of the year to date by far.’ (Popular Science)
‘Baggott’s investigation is an accessible account of the race to build the world’s first atomic weapons. Compelling.’ (Good Book Guide)
‘Atomic is the tale of the creation of the Atomic bomb during wartime, and the political fallout from the realization of these powerful weapons… Most importantly Atomic is about the people and personalities behind the bomb… It’s a disturbing book – simply because it’s a very disturbing story.’ (Book Geeks)
‘Comprehensive and clear-flowing book by Jim Baggott… the real nub of this thriller of a book: the human brain is the thing that fills you wit fearful awe.’ (Diplomat Magazine)
‘This is an excellent example of popular science, explaining a series of difficult concepts clearly and coherently, but without sacrificing accuracy. When combined with the personal stories of the scientists the result is an excellent study of the development of the first atomic bomb.’ (History of War)
‘Jim Baggott’s clear, elegant prose never falters, whether unveiling the scientists and spies who raced to unlock the secrets of the atom bomb, or describing the sub-atomic particle which drove the physicists on to what J Robert Oppenheimer later called 'sin'.’ (Telegraph)
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Top Customer Reviews
The science, as far as my meager knowledge can tell, is accurate but limited, perhaps understandably so. It might not be a good idea to tell us how to build an atomic bomb in our kitchen from waste uranium in the rubbish bin.
The book suffers a little from hindsight, although in fairness, it does try to present the Nazi dilemma from knowledge known at the time. For the workers on the Manhattan Project, there could have been no assurance that they were ahead of the Nazis until very near the end of the war.
Should the bombs have been exploded over Hiroshima and Nagasaki; easy to say no from our perspective in time, very difficult for those making decisions in 1945. But one point is missed in this and many other books. Had the bomb not been used on Japan, how likely is it that the USA and Soviet Russia would have used it in 1950 in Korea, or in 1962 during the Cuba crisis. Knowing what the bomb could do is very, VERY different to having seen its effects on human cities. That does not make a justification for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but, for me at least, it gives pause for thought that perhaps something good did come out of those twin tragedies.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read for those interested in understanding how we got the first Atom bomb.Published 7 months ago by rob
I bought this as background reading for a lecture I was giving on the Manhattan Project. I thought it was an absorbing read, well-written, covering military, political and... Read morePublished on 10 Feb. 2013 by Philip G Jones
This is a comparative account of the progress of various nations towards creating an effective nuclear-energy releasing bomb. Read morePublished on 17 April 2012 by Mr. Brian R. Dougal
This book, charting the history of the development of nuclear weapons, is a rattling good read with some memorable phrases. Read morePublished on 28 Jan. 2012 by Mr Swallow
Jim Baggott's "Atomic:" is a superb summary and updating of the history of the origin and development of nuclear weapons. Read morePublished on 11 April 2011 by paulrollo
Fantastic book with a perfect balance of Science and History. There are some really fascinating chapters - especially the military operation in Norway, which had me completely... Read morePublished on 11 Mar. 2011 by StepanTimofeevich
The book charts the development of the atomic bomb and the characters who played the key role in its development. Read morePublished on 31 Jan. 2011 by king oswald