Atomic (Hardback)

The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939-49

Jim Baggott

Share this book

Rich in personality, action, confrontation and deception, “Atomic” is the first fully realised popular account of the race to build humankind’s most destructive weapon. The book draws on declassified material, such as MI6’s FarmHall transcripts, coded Soviet messages cracked by American cryptographers in the Venona project, and interpretations by Russian scholars of documents from the Soviet archives. Jim Baggott weaves these threads into a monumental book that spans ten historic years, from the discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 to the aftermath of ‘Joe-1’, August 1949’s first Soviet atomic bomb test.Why did physicists persist in developing the atomic bomb, despite the devastation that it could bring? Why, despite having a clear head start, did Hitler’s physicists fail? Could the Soviets have developed the bomb without spies like Klaus Fuchs or Donald Maclean? Did the Allies really plot to assassinate a key member of the German bomb programme? Did the physicists knowingly inspire the arms race? “Atomic” is an epic story of science and technology at the very limits of human understanding; a tale barely believable as fiction, which just happens to be historical fact.

Jim Baggott is an award-winning science writer. A former academic chemist,he runs an independent management consultancy practice but maintains a broad interest in science, philosophy and history and continues to write on these subjects in his spare time, for, amongother publications, New Scientist magazine. His previous bookshave been widely acclaimed and include A Beginner’s Guide to Reality (Penguin, 2005) and Beyond Measure: Modern Physics,Philosophy and the Meaning of Quantum Theory (OUP, 2004).

‘I [have] read everything on the subject that I could lay my hands on, but I never read such a good, comprehensive account as Jim Baggott’s… Highly recommended.’Reader’s Digest
‘High drama… fascinating reading.’BBC Focus Magazine
‘Grimly compelling. Thorough and accessible.’Daily Telegraph
‘The best popular science book of the year to date by far.’Popular Science
‘Baggott’s investigation is an accessible account of the race to build the world’s first atomic weapons. Compelling.’Good Book Guide
‘Atomic is the tale of the creation of the Atomic bomb during wartime, and the political fallout from the realization of these powerful weapons… Most importantly Atomic is about the people and personalities behind the bomb… It’s a disturbing book – simply because it’s a very disturbing story.’Book Geeks
‘Comprehensive and clear-flowing book by Jim Baggott… the real nub of this thriller of a book: the human brain is the thing that fills you wit fearful awe.’Diplomat Magazine
‘This is an excellent example of popular science, explaining a series of difficult concepts clearly and coherently, but without sacrificing accuracy. When combined with the personal stories of the scientists the result is an excellent study of the development of the first atomic bomb.’History of War
‘Jim Baggott’s clear, elegant prose never falters, whether unveiling the scientists and spies who raced to unlock the secrets of the atom bomb, or describing the sub-atomic particle which drove the physicists on to what J Robert Oppenheimer later called ‘sin’.’Telegraph

You might also like…

The Manhattan Project by Jeff Hughes

Established in 1942, the Manhattan Project brought together an international team of scientists in a top secret quest: beating the Nazis to the atomic bomb. Their ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1… Read more »


Atom by Piers Bizony

All things are made of atoms, little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. This is the first popular account of the fa… Read more »


30-Second Elements by Eric Scerri

When was radium discovered? Who are Dmitri Mendeleev and Glenn T. Seaborg? Who discovered uranium’s radioactivity? Which element is useful for dating the age of Earth? And why doesn’t gold have a scientific name? 30-Second Elements presents… Read more »



about this book

ISBN: 9781848310445

Price: 20.00 GBP

Pages: 576

Publication date: 05/03/2009


buy this book