The subject of this book is the creation of the Atomic Bomb- the most destructive weapon of all time. This weapon simply wasn’t built overnight, rather this monograph explains the behind the scenes of the bomb, eventually leading to a crucial turning point in the war. From scientific discoveries to varying political views, the idea that this invention could be weaponized ultimately changed the course of world history as we know today.
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The main intention of this monograph is to explain the many tough decisions both scientists and political leaders were faced with during the Atomic Bomb era. The construction of this weapon was not until 1941 when the US entered WWll. As a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, US government officials were forced to give priorities to funding and organizing research into the creation of such a weapon through a secret operation known as the Manhattan Project. The lead scientist on the project was Niels Bohr, a Danish physicist. His work on the Manhattan Project was in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was developed. However, throughout his research Bohr expressed concern about the threat to humanity from nuclear warfare. The author, Richard Rhodes, repeatedly addresses the difficult moral and ethical dilemmas the many scientists of the Manhattan Project were faced with. In particular, the implications of creating such a weapon of mass destruction that could effect thousands. Scientists who solely worked on the Manhattan Project were forced to consider the ultimate effect of their research efforts on the future of the human race.
Throughout their experiments, scientists discussed and debated the fate of global politics in the wake of atomic warfare. Rhodes provides the reader with an idea of the deeply felt moral and ethical dilemmas of the scientists responsible for the bomb and the pure horror of the human suffering that resulted from their efforts. Ultimately once the scientific work was finished the burden shifted to political leaders. After the first successful atomic bomb test, called Trinity, which exploded on July 16, 1945 with great contemplation President Truman declared it a monumental asset for the military.On August 6th, the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Again on August 9th, another bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Five days later, Japan conceded to a surrender to the Allies, resulting in the end of World War II. Ultimately, President Truman’s decision dramatically impacted human life world wide but was justified due to what could have happened if someone didn’t take charge.
Rhodes organized this monograph biographically: At each major step along the way, he inserts brief stories about the most significant members so readers are not confronted with unfamiliar names. Almost the entire first third is devoted to introducing the international community of scientists whose work contributed to the development of the first atomic bomb. Rhodes provides background knowledge on scientists from numerous countries including; Denmark, Germany, and the United States. Rhodes concludes the remaining portion of the book by mirroring Leo Szilard’s ideas regarding the Open Conspiracy. He explains the dominant organization of political power in the world today known as the nation-state which has become nothing but a death machine. The only thing that can thwart this organization is the commonwealth of science. Rhodes concludes that 1945 was the first time science became a strong enough network to challenge the nation-state itself. The nation-state could no longer use war as a means of settling disputes. In other words, science was the only thing that could save the world from the death machine of the modern nation-state by forming an Open Conspiracy of its own.
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