EDWARD TELLER: Giant of the Golden Age of Physics by Stanley A. & Louis G. Panos Blumberg

EDWARD TELLER: Giant of the Golden Age of Physics

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A reverential account of Edward Teller's efforts to further the cause of America's nuclear defense, from the hydrogen bomb to SDI. Teller reportedly agreed to cooperate with the authors on this biography on the condition that they avoid painting a wholly complimentary portrait of him. Blumberg (The Survival Factor, 1981) and Baltimore Sun columnist Panos not only fail to comply with Teller's proviso, but also forgo writing a creditable biography altogether in their eagerness to use Teller's life as a platform for their own pro-SDI opinions. Teller's childhood as a precocious mathematician in Budapest, his early rise among the ranks of European physicists, his move to the US, and his achievements as ""father of the hydrogen bomb"" (a term he loathes) are hurriedly brushed aside as the authors concentrate on the important stuff: the unfairness of Teller's so-called persecution at the hands of his fellow scientists after he testified against Robert Oppenheimer at the latter's security hearing in the Fifties; Teller's persecution when he opposed banning nuclear tests in the earth's atmosphere; the persecution resulting from his support for nuclear energy; and, finally, the continued persecution for his lobbying efforts on behalf of SDI. The authors frequently digress from their subject to argue the merits of SDI and to discuss the Soviets' purported nuclear buildup (though much of the proof of this assertion, they lament, is classified). Describing the USSR's burial of missile silos and treaty-sanctioned placement of defensive launchers around Moscow as its own full-blown SDI program, Blumberg and Panos incorrectly claim that this ""impervious"" defense can be combated only with a complicated system of anti-missile missiles. With admirers like these, Teller needs no enemies. Those interested in the physicist's life should look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Scribners