Buy Used
+ £2.80 UK delivery
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by Hemingways
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: An EX LIBRARY copy in VERY GOOD overall condition. May have some library stamps, marks etc.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939-49 Hardcover – 5 Mar 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
£12.20 £0.01
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (5 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848310447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848310445
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 5.3 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 767,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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,


‘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)

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A reasonable history of the early nuclear arms race. The book is long on detail, but short on characterization. Probably the most important man in atomic history was Robert Oppenheimer, but I learned little about him that I didn't already know. 'Oppenheimer was certainly talented, but he was more technician than innovator.' On the other hand, a colleague is quoted as calling him 'A specialist in the problems of nuclear physics...he was one of the very best interpreters of the mathematical theories to those of us who were working more directly with the experiments.' That sounds like a lot more than just a technician!
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 ›
1 Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The race for and the development of the Atom Bomb is something which tends to get hurried over in comprehensive accounts of World War II, usually because it's a very involved, complicated and for some writers a rather dry business, which is odd considering the impact of this weapon had. Jim Baggott is therefore to be congratulated for weaving into his book, character studies of those most closely involved; the personal interplays between them; the physics involved; the various dramas of the race to develop this most deadly of devices and the views of the military and political master overseeing the various national projects. The book is crammed with detail, contains a list of the principal characters, a chart with time lines comparing the progress of the UK, US, NAZI Germany and USSR, has footnotes on most pages and another series of notes relevant to each chapter at the end of the book. The style of writing is easy on the reader (although you might well have to read some of the physics information a few times-unless you are familiar with this aspect), and at times does read like a top of the range international thriller- not every factual book can claim to be entertaining as well as informative. His final words pack a punch; the beast of nuclear weaponry is still not dead as he makes reference to those states currently involved in building up a nuclear stockpile. Recommended for those interested in World War II, military and political history in general, and the development of nuclear weapons; also to those with a curiosity as to how these dread devices ever came into being.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
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.
Read more ›
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews