The best books on how science won World War Two

Jacob Berkowitz Author Of The Stardust Revolution: The New Story of Our Origin in the Stars
By Jacob Berkowitz

The Books I Picked & Why

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhode

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Why this book?

The invention of the A-bomb was the most intensive, expensive, and extensive weapons development program in history. Rhodes’ book is a magisterial, gripping telling of this story—from nascent ideas to the terrors of Nagasaki. Pulitzer prize-winner, it’s essential reading to understand the birth of today’s big science.


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The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technological Revolution

By Robert Buderi

The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technological Revolution

Why this book?

To paraphrase Buderi, radar won the war, the atomic bomb ended it. This isn’t hyperbole. Rushed into service, radar saved Britain from invasion in the summer of 1941 and was a decisive tool in every major theatre of war, from directing night bombers to attacking U-boats.


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Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War

By Michael J. Neufeld

Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War

Why this book?

In the 1910s little Werner von Braun dreamed of going to the Moon. In this remarkable biography, we read how his life-long, singular ambition led him to become the Nazi’s head rocket builder—and then the NASA engineer who created the Saturn V rockets that carried Americans to the Moon.


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Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

By Annie Jacobsen

Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America

Why this book?

Von Braun was one of the hundreds of Nazi scientists hunted by the Americans in the dying days of the war and brought to the U.S. to continue their research—on everything from nerve toxins to human experimentation. Heavily researched and detailed, the book’s a chilling read and ethical challenge.


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American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

By Kai Bird, Martin J. Sherwin

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Why this book?

What thanks do you get for building the weapon that makes the U.S. the world’s military superpower? Physicist Robert Oppenheimer led the Manhattan Project, inventing the atomic bomb. This compelling biography reveals he was later demonized, too complicated a man to simply wear the label patriot in Cold War-era America.


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