by Joseph & Marcia Kunstel Albright ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1997
Two Moscow-based correspondents for the Cox Newspaper chain build a 50-year-old case against respected scientist Theodore Hall for having passed secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. A Harvard physics prodigy, Hall was just 18 when he was recruited in January 1944 to join hundreds of scientists at work on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos in the New Mexico desert. Even though Hall's left-wing leanings and sympathies for the Soviet Union were obvious, he had no trouble passing a security check. Hall was soon privy to the innermost secrets of America's frenzied rush to develop atomic weaponry. Albright and Kunstel allege that Hall passed some of these secrets to the Soviets, and that his information was more revealing of the bomb's design than that allegedly channeled through Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed as spies in 1953. The journalists base their case largely on recently declassified documents from Russian and American intelligence archives, but also on interviews with Hall and his wife, Joan. Ted Hall, a researcher at Cambridge University for the last 30 years, never directly confesses, but he does admit that he was deeply concerned about the threat to humankind if America were to have a monopoly on atomic weapons, and that he was naive about Stalin's Soviet Union. The authors waver between exploring this rationale and exposing Hall as a spy as the book's central theme, and their focus is further diluted by myriad details about the atomic bomb project and Hall's alleged co-conspirators, and suggestions that there were yet other, even more important spies at Los Alamos. Though the context sometimes overwhelms the message, this largely sympathetic portrayal of a man who, like the Rosenbergs, would likely have been executed for his alleged crimes if he had been caught, is a revealing story about the times in which the Bomb was born.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997
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