MANHATTAN PROJECT by Stephane Groueff


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Groueff, a ""Paris-Match"" reporter, was sponsored by The Reader's Digest to write this prodigious account of the multiple efforts which went into the creation of the first atomic bomb between 1942 and 1945. The book is a history of the men involved, mainly; and Groves, the military commander, is obviously the author's hero. Reading like the account of a hurdle race, the book charges into a discussion of a problem, then ""finds"" and describes the man who bested it. Thus are described the building of Oak Ridge, Fermi's atomic pile, the electromagnetic process, the crises over the barrier and the valves for the gaseous diffusion process, the last-minute decisions concerning the implosion process with plutonium. Groueff does convey well a scene of fantastic activity, where different solutions to one problem were worked on simultaneously, where industrial equipment came before scientific results were known, where the ""impossible"" was achieved--in time. The material is fascinating, and the scientific information is well presented. One can't even quarrel too much with the repetitive method. But it is the simplistic point of view that grates-too often. Again and again ""longhair,"" ""prima donna"" scientists are pitted against ""go get um"" ""no-nonsense"" industry men. This is only one example of many ""easy"" characterizations that are rampant in the book. The pulpy enthusiasm and the saccharine attempts at a ""human touch"" do mar this excellent overall view of a monumental project.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1967
Publisher: Little, Brown