In 1943, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant, charismatic head of the Manhattan Project, recruited scientists to live as virtual prisoners of the US government at Los Alamos, a barren mesa thirty-five miles outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.In 1943, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant, charismatic head of the Manhattan Project, recruited scientists to live as virtual prisoners of the U.S. government at Los Alamos, a barren mesa thirty-five miles outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thousands of men, women, and children spent the war years sequestered in this top-secret military facility. They lied to friends and family about where they were going and what they were doing, and then disappeared into the desert. Through the eyes of a young Santa Fe widow who was one of Oppenheimer's first recruits, we see how, for all his flaws, he developed into an inspiring leader and motivated all those involved in the Los Alamos project to make a supreme effort and achieve the unthinkable.
Packed with startling revelations, this inside look at the secret side of the Cold War exposes just how close America came to total annihilation
During the Cold War, a flight crew had 15 minutes to get their nuke-laden plane in the air from the moment Soviet bombers were detected--15 minutes between the earliest warning of an incoming nuclear strike and the first flash of an enemy warhead. This is the chilling true story of the incredibly risky steps our military took to protect us from that scenario, including:
- Over two thousand loaded bombers that crossed American skies. They sometimes crashed and at least nine times resulted in nuclear weapons being accidentally dropped
- A system that would use timers and rockets to launch missiles even after everyone was dead
- Disastrous atmospheric nuclear testing including the horrific runaway bomb--that fooled scientists and put thousands of men in uniform in the center of a cloud of hot fallout
- A plan to use dry lake beds to rebuild and launch a fighting force in the aftermath of nuclear war
Based on formerly classified documents, military records, press accounts, interviews and over 10 years of research, 15 Minutes is one of the most important works on the atom bomb ever written.
It began with plutonium, the first element ever manufactured in quantity by humans. Fearing that the Germans would be the first to weaponize the atom, the United States marshaled brilliant minds and seemingly inexhaustible bodies to find a way to create a nuclear chain reaction of inconceivable explosive power. In a matter of months, the Hanford nuclear facility was built to produce and weaponize the enigmatic and deadly new material that would fuel atomic bombs. In the desert of eastern Washington State, far from prying eyes, scientists Glenn Seaborg, Enrico Fermi, and many thousands of others--the physicists, engineers, laborers, and support staff at the facility--manufactured plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and for the bombs in the current American nuclear arsenal, enabling the construction of weapons with the potential to end human civilization.
With his characteristic blend of scientific clarity and storytelling, Steve Olson asks why Hanford has been largely overlooked in histories of the Manhattan Project and the Cold War. Olson, who grew up just twenty miles from Hanford's B Reactor, recounts how a small Washington town played host to some of the most influential scientists and engineers in American history as they sought to create the substance at the core of the most destructive weapons ever created. The Apocalypse Factory offers a new generation this dramatic story of human achievement and, ultimately, of lethal hubris.
In his shocking and revelatory new work, the celebrated journalist William Langewiesche investigates the burgeoning global threat of nuclear weapons production. The Atomic Bazaar is the story of the inexorable drift of nuclear weapons technology from the hands of the rich into the hands of the poor. As more unstable and undeveloped nations find ways of acquiring the ultimate arms, the stakes of state-sponsored nuclear activity have soared to frightening heights. Even more disturbing is the likelihood of such weapons being manufactured and deployed by guerrilla non-state terrorists.
Langewiesche also recounts the recent history of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist at the forefront of nuclear development and trade in the Middle East who masterminded the theft and sale of centrifuge designs that helped to build Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, and who single-handedly peddled nuclear plans to North Korea, Iran, and other potentially hostile countries. He then examines in dramatic and tangible detail the chances for nuclear terrorism.
From Hiroshima to the present day, Langewiesche describes a reality of urgent consequence to us all. This searing, provocative, and timely report is a triumph of investigative journalism, and a masterful laying out of the most critical political problem the world now faces.
Atomic Tragedy offers a unique perspective on one of the most important events of the twentieth century. As secretary of war during World War II, Henry L. Stimson (1867-1950) oversaw the American nuclear weapons program. In a book about how an experienced, principled man faltered when confronted by the tremendous challenge posed by the intersection of war, diplomacy, and technology, Sean L. Malloy examines Stimson's struggle to reconcile his responsibility for the most terrible weapon ever known in human history with his long-standing convictions about war and morality.
Ultimately, Stimson's story is one of failure; despite his beliefs, Stimson reluctantly acquiesced in the use of the atomic bomb against heavily populated Japanese cities in August 1945. This is the first biography of Stimson to benefit from extensive use of papers relating to the Manhattan Project; Malloy has also uncovered evidence illustrating the origins of Stimson's commitment to eliminating or refining the conduct of war against civilians, information that makes clear the agony of Stimson's dilemma.
The ultimate aim of Atomic Tragedy is not only to contribute to a greater historical understanding of the first use of nuclear weapons but also to offer lessons from the decision-making process during the years 1940-1945 that are applicable to the current world environment. As the United States mobilizes scientists and engineers to build new and supposedly more usable nuclear weapons and as nations in Asia and the Middle East are replicating the feat of the Manhattan Project physicists at Los Alamos, it is more important than ever that policymakers and analysts recognize the chain of failures surrounding the first use of those weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Manhattan Project--the World War II race to produce an atomic bomb--transformed the entire country in myriad ways, but it did not affect each region equally. Acting on an enduring perception of the American West as an "empty" place, the U.S. government located a disproportionate number of nuclear facilities--particularly the ones most likely to spread pollution--in western states. The Manhattan Project manufactured plutonium at Hanford, Washington; designed and assembled bombs at Los Alamos, New Mexico; and detonated the world's first atomic bomb at Alamagordo, New Mexico, on June 16, 1945.
In the years that followed the war, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission selected additional western sites for its work. Many westerners initially welcomed the atom. Like federal officials, they, too, regarded their region as "empty," or underdeveloped. Facilities to make, test, and base atomic weapons, sites to store nuclear waste, and even nuclear power plants were regarded as assets. By the 1960s and 1970s, however, regional attitudes began to change. At a variety of locales, ranging from Eskimo Alaska to Mormon Utah, westerners devoted themselves to resisting the atom and its effects on their environments and communities. Just as the atomic age had dawned in the American West, so its artificial sun began to set there.
The Atomic West brings together contributions from several disciplines to explore the impact on the West of the development of atomic power from wartime secrecy and initial postwar enthusiasm to public doubts and protest in the 1970s and 1980s. An impressive example of the benefits of interdisciplinary studies on complex topics, The Atomic West advances our understanding of both regional history and the history of science, and does so with human communities as a significant focal point. The book will be of special interest to students and experts on the American West, environmental history, and the history of science and technology.
Seth Carus's book is a unique combination of scholarly discipline and astute political judgment. This is a succinct and insightful analysis of one of the most vital security challenges of this century.
Janne E. Nolan Senior Fellow The Brookings Institution
Since the vivid images of SCUD missile attacks on Israel and Saudi Arabia were flashed on television screens all over the world, many have wondered how a country like Iraq could acquire and use such long-range ballistic missiles. Although Iran and Iraq had fired these missiles at each other many times during their 1980-88 war, the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's missiles was not fully realized until the SCUDs began raining down on Israel, and Saudi Arabia at the start of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. This timely book by missile expert W. Seth Carus, written in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and including a foreword by Edward N. Luttwak, contains an alarming assessment of the missile threat worldwide. An up-to-the-minute postscript on the American-Iraqi war and its effects on further ballistic missile proliferation throughout the Third World is also included. Carus presents the facts behind the spread of ballistic missiles and their technology to Third World countries and suggests plausible responses for the United States and its allies.
Various developing nations--among them Iran, Iraq, Libya, North and South Korea, Brazil, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, India, and South Africa--already possess large numbers of ballistic missiles and no longer rely on the superpowers alone for their weapons procurement or production. Carus covers all aspects of ballistic missiles--their capabilities and disadvantages, their possible fitting with chemical or nuclear warheads, their attractiveness for Third World leaders, and the responses of Third World countries to missile arsenals in neighboring states. The success of cruise missiles and anti-missile missiles (such as Patriots) in the Persian Gulf War make these missiles of even greater interest to Third World countries. Carus warns of the dire consequences of ignoring the spread of missiles and their technology to areas of the world where future wars are likely to occur.
"Harrowing . . . richly descriptive . . . an] absorbing account."--The New York Times Book Review
"Remarkable . . . terrifying revelations . . . Ken Alibek's] overall message is ignored at great national peril."--Newsday
"Younger has provided an insightful guide, especially for the general reader, into today's array of nuclear powers and their capabilities."
--James Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy, former
In The Bomb, Stephen Younger, former Los Alamos weapons designer and author of Endangered Species, provides a new history of the making of nuclear policy and the creation of the most terrible weapons humankind has ever possessed. In an era when rogue nations like North Korean and Iran strive to create their own precarious weapons programs, Younger's The Bomb provides much-needed background and insight for students, policy makers, and readers who wish to better understand the important issues involving nuclear weapons and national security.