The best books on the Manhattan Project

The Books I Picked & Why

Hiroshima

By John Hersey

Hiroshima

Why this book?

It is a rare and wondrous thing when a book can at once inform and move you. Author John Hersey grips readers with his narrative style, by elegantly weaving together personal stories and key information. The result is a book that causes one to both think and feel. An invaluable contribution to the vast library of World War II works and one of my all-time favorite reads.


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The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhode

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Why this book?

This Pulitzer Prize-winning book is the be-all, end-all of reads on the Manhattan Project. Full stop. If I were forced to recommend just one book to immerse yourself into every aspect of the project, from the science to the politics and more, it would be this one. Don’t let the tremendous page-count scare you off—Rhodes is a smooth, readable, and engaging writer.


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Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

By Dan Zak

Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

Why this book?

Zak is an award-winning reporter for the Washington Post where his gift for prose is on regular display. When he turned his skillful journalist’s eye toward nuclear weaponry and present-day anti-nuclear activism, the result was a book that takes readers through the night and aftermath of a break-in at one of the most secure facilities in the country, and a look at the moments and forces in history that shaped the people involved.


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Truman

By David McCullough

Truman

Why this book?

I cannot imagine a book that David McCullough might write that I would not want to read. This impeccably researched and wonderfully intriguing book about President Harry. S. Truman—who was in the White House when the decisions to release the first-ever atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made—gives an intimate and informative look at one of the key figures in both the Manhattan Project and World War II history.


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Day of Trinity

By Lansing Lamont

Day of Trinity

Why this book?

Published in 1965 and written by then Washington and foreign correspondent of Time Magazine Lamont, this book remains for me an exceptionally compelling narrative history. The lens here is focused tightly on the events leading up to the first-ever test of an atomic bomb, which was codenamed “Trinity.” Obsessively researched, yes, but it’s Lamont’s writing that makes readers feel as though they are there, in the vastness of the desert, witnessing a happening that changed the world forever.


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