OVERRIDE

Brotherhood of the Bomb

The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller

Gregg Herken

Holt Paperbacks

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee

Ten years in the research and writing, Gregg Herken's account of the three scientists most responsible for the nuclear age—Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller—is based on private papers, interviews with Manhattan Project survivors, and recently released documents and coded intercepts obtained from FBI and KGB archives and other sources around the world. One of Brotherhood of the Bomb's surprises is the complex game of spy versus counterspy that surrounded the bomb's building and later dominated the Cold War. Yet, armies of U.S. security agents were unable to prevent the bomb's secrets from being passed to the Russians (sometimes by their American helpers). At the book's center is the question of loyalty—to science, to country, to family—and the choices that had to be made when such allegiances came into conflict.

Revealed here for the first time are Robert Oppenheimer's efforts while scientific director of the Manhattan Project to hide his radical past, and the complicity of General Leslie Groves, head of the bomb project, in keeping that long-held secret. Oppenheimer was ultimately compromised by lies he told to protect his brother, Frank, which led to his own loyalty hearing during the high-water mark of McCarthyism in the 1950s.

More than a cautionary tale, Brotherhood of the Bomb is a vital slice of American history. Gregg Herken's book reveals what can happen to individual and group integrity when big-time science—and its practitioners—are enlisted in the service of the state.

REVIEWS

Praise for Brotherhood of the Bomb

"The most commanding history yet written of the internal politics of the United States during the early years of the nuclear age . . . an enthralling narrative." -The New York Times Book Review

"The story is well-crafted and meticulously researched, drawing on recently declassified FBI files and documents, and it moves at a helter-skelter pace . . . a gripping account of three tangled lives." -The Washington Post World

"A well-written, well-documented, exciting and yet unhappy tale of a crucial encounter between science and politics."-Los Angeles Times

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Gregg Herken

  • Gregg Herken is a curator and historian at the Smithsonian Institution and has taught at Oberlin, Caltech, and Yale. He is the author of The Winning Weapon, Counsels of War , and Cardinal Choices and received a MacArthur grant for this book. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
BACK

COMMUNITY

TheHistoryReader.com

    MORE BLOG POSTS
    BACK

    BUY THE BOOK

    Available Formats and Book Details

    Brotherhood of the Bomb

    The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller

    Gregg Herken

    L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist, L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist

    BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

    BACK

    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Holt Paperbacks

    BACK