On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan (and shortly after one on Nagasaki, Japan), effectively ending World War II. That much is covered in history classes. Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin tells the story of how the bomb was created. German physicist, Otto Hahn was the one to discover, in 1938 that when “speeding neutrons hit uranium atoms … the force of the collision seemed to be causing the urnaium atom to split into two,” and this discovery is what made the creation of the atomic bomb possible. As news of this discovery spread and World War II was set into motion a race to be the first to build this new bomb was on. The race to build the atomic bomb involved secrecy, sabotage, the kidnapping of German scientists, and spies attempting to infiltrate the project. Even though the reader knows how the book will end (with the Americans creating and dropping the first atomic bomb) Sheinkin captures the excitement, tension, and urgency surrounding the Manhattan Project (what the project to produce the bomb was called) in the 1940s.
We’ll be discussing this book, along with others, at Caudill Cafe on June 11th.