Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 266p. (9781596434875)
This was a fascinating book. I’ve read a fair amount about World War II but this is the first book I’ve read about the work that went into developing, building and testing the atomic bomb. This is also the first time I’ve read a complete account of how worried the Allied forces were that the Germans would develop the bomb first and how successful the Russians were at getting info from the Americans.
Which is what this book is all about. Steve Sheinkin does a great job weaving the stories of how scientists discover the possibilities of splitting atoms, how the Americans starting to build the bomb, how the British sabotaging the German efforts and how the Russians went about infiltrating the Manhattan Project.
You can always tell the quality of a nonfiction book by how many sources the author(s) consulted and the fullness of the index. And this book passes the test with flying colors. There are many quotes and at the end, in addition to the extensive list of sources, is a list of all the quotes and where they came from. At the beginning of each part is a two page spread of photos showing the people involved.
A massive amount of organization, recruitment and construction was needed to even begin the research and development of the atomic bomb. While this book focuses on the scientists figuring out how to control the fission (atom splitting) and the espionage, the reader gets a sense of much work was involved, of the stress felt by the Allies that the Germans would beat them to the bomb, of the rejoicing and then silence of the scientists after the successful test.
Bomb is a great book for any middle or high school student and for any adult interested in World War II.
Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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