A magnificent account of a central reality of our times, incorporating deep scientific expertise, broad political and social knowledge, and ethical insight, and Idled with beautifully written biographical sketches of the men and women who created nuclear physics. Rhodes describes in detail the great scientific achievements that led up to the invention of the atomic bomb. Everything of importance is examined, from the discovery of the atomic nucleus and of nuclear fission to the emergence of quantum physics, the invention of the mass-spectroscope and of the cyclotron, the creation of such man-made elements as plutonium and tritium, and implementation of the nuclear chain reaction in uranium. Even more important, Rhodes shows how these achievements were thrust into the arms of the state, which culminated in the unfolding of the nuclear arms race. Often brilliantly, he records the rise of fascism and of anti-Semitism, and the intensification of nationalist ambitions. He traces the outbreak of WW II, which provoked a hysterical rivalry among nations to devise the bomb. This book contains a grim description of Japanese resistance, and of the horrible psychological numbing that caused an unparalleled tolerance for human suffering and destruction. Rhodes depicts the Faustian scale of the Manhattan Project. His account of the dropping of the bomb itself, and of the awful firebombing that prepared its way, is unforgettable. Although Rhodes' gallery of names and events is sometimes dizzying, his scientific discussions often daunting, he has written a book of great drama and sweep. A superb accomplishment.