The author, a senior historian and curator at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum, presents an inside look at the men who developed America's atomic weapons between 1930 and 1960, centering on Ernest Lawrence (inventor of the cyclotron), J. Robert Oppenheimer (the theoretical physicist who shepherded the atomic bomb to fruition, and lived to regret it), and Edward Teller (father of the H-bomb). But the story is primarily political: Herken uses FBI files to describe the efforts of some government officials to destroy Oppenheimer (with the sometime assistance of Lawrence and Teller) under the suspicion that he was a Soviet spy. The tale would be comically ironical if its geopolitical and scientific results had not been so costly and dire. Herken largely keeps his personal judgments out of the narrative, letting the players and facts speak pretty much for themselves.
This report prepared by David Loftus