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Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert…
by Gregg Herken
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 080506589X, Paperback)It would be difficult to identify three American scientists whose work had a greater effect on world politics than Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller. This exhaustive account of how they worked together (and competed against each other) on the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs is more a story of people than science. Author Gregg Herken of the Smithsonian Institution informs us, for instance, of Oppenheimer's "riotous parties" in the 1930s, in which latecomers would see "the top physicists of their generation, drunk and crouched on all fours, playing a version of tiddly-winks on the geometric patterns of Oppenheimer's Navajo rug." Despite a few light touches, Brotherhood of the Bomb is no breezy profile of three great minds. Instead, it is a serious look at invention, rivalry, and betrayal. One of the central episodes involves Oppenheimer's too-cozy relationship with radical-left politics--he carelessly associated with Communists, even though he occupied one of the most sensitive jobs in the U.S. government during the cold war--and Teller's momentous decision to testify against him. This event is one of the most controversial in the annals of American science, and Herken tells it straight, with barely a word of editorial comment. Fans of Richard Rhodes will enjoy this triple biography, as will anybody with an interest in science, politics, and top-secret security clearances. --John J. Miller
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)
"If science is the story of the twentieth century, no drama is more compelling than that of "the Bomb" and its creators. But the tale of human conflict that connects the three scientists most responsible for the nuclear age - Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller - was until now known only in broad outline.". "Ten years in the research and writing, Gregg Herken's account is based on private papers, interviews with Manhattan Project survivors, and recently released documents and coded intercepts obtained from FBI and KGB archives and other sources around the world. One of Brotherhood of the Bomb's surprises is the complex game of spy versus counterspy that surrounded the bomb's building and later dominated the Cold War. Yet, armies of U.S. security agents were unable to prevent the bomb's secrets from being passed to the Russians (sometimes by their American helpers). At the book's center is the question of loyalty - to science, to country, to family - and the wrenching choices that had to be made when such allegiances came into conflict."--BOOK JACKET.
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