The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer— The Unlikely Partnership That Built the Atom Bomb

James W. Kunetka. Regnery, $29.99 (480p) ISBN 978-1-62157-338-8
Timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Trinity Test, the detonation of the first atomic bomb, Kunetka shares the story of its development. Having previously written on the subject (1978’s City of Fire and 1981’s Oppenheimer, Year of Risk), Kunetka here uses original records and correspondence to produce a fast-paced recounting of the two and a half year Manhattan Project. He sets this narrative apart by focusing on the relationship between the two key leaders of the project: Gen. Leslie Richard “Dick” Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos Laboratory. Groves was from a middle-class family, authoritarian, brusque, and focused on his mission. Oppenheimer was wealthy, charismatic, liberal, and focused on academic understanding. Despite the tremendous pressures of war, these two very different men worked together in relative harmony. Kunetka highlights the unlikeliness of their positive relationship and attributes it to the qualities they shared: both were intelligent, self-aware, patriotic, and capable of prodigious amounts of work. He also simplifies the physics to be understandable to lay readers. This is an entertaining and informative account of a time of great tension, great discovery, and great accomplishment. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/11/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
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