Friday, January 16, 2015
Bomb by Steven Sheinkin
Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin is juvenile nonfiction at its absolute best.
During World War II, one of the most decisive battles was fought, not on a battlefield, but in a laboratory. The race to build the atomic bomb was on, and pretty much all of the world's top physicists were working on the problem in one way or another, for one major power or another. In Los Alamos, New Mexico, scientists from the Manhattan Project, headed up by Robert Oppenheimer, worked tirelessly to build and test the American bomb -- but a few of them were also leaking secrets to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, American spies worked hard to sabotage Germany's nuclear efforts, despite not knowing exactly what German scientists knew, or even where they were.
This is an amazingly gripping and readable work of nonfiction. The pacing is excellent as the author switches from one story to another, and he does a great job of making the historical figures come alive without sacrificing historical accuracy. And his brief summation of the Cold War and the development of more powerful weapons at the end of the book is quite chilling. I listened to the audiobook and found myself completely captivated by it. I'd recommend this title for its intended audience (ages 9-14), but also for adults like myself, with an interest but not a lot of knowledge on the topic of the Manhattan Project and the creation of the first nuclear weapons.
(Reviewed from an audiobook borrowed through my library system.)