The best books on the Manhattan Project 📚

Browse the best books on the Manhattan Project as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Making of the Atomic Bomb

The Making of the Atomic Bomb

By Richard Rhodes

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.

From the list:

The best books on how science won World War Two

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Book cover of Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy

Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy

By Joseph Albright, Marcia Kunstel

Why this book?

The story of the youngest physicist at Los Alamos, Ted Hall, who volunteered to spy for the KGB and provided vital atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. Although Hall’s treachery was discovered by American counter-intelligence, he was never prosecuted to avoid alerting the Soviets that the United States had decrypted their top-secret WWII cables. Albright and Kunstel tell the story of an idealistic, naïve and arrogant spy.

From the list:

The best books on Soviet espionage

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Book cover of Day of Trinity

Day of Trinity

By Lansing Lamont

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.

From the list:

The best books on the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb

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Book cover of The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II

By Denise Kiernan

Why this book?

I’ve long been a fan of Denise Kiernan’s work, which is as scrupulously researched as it is beautifully written. The Girls of Atomic City is about Oak Ridge, Tennessee during World War II, and how women became a central force in building community in this town that didn’t exist before the war, and among people who moved here and many times didn’t know what a crucial, but secret, project they were working on. The town may not have been on a map, but it would soon be after the uranium unknowingly mined there by female calutron operators wound up being…

From the list:

The best books about women in STEM

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Book cover of Truman

Truman

By David McCullough

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.

From the list:

The best books on the Manhattan Project and the making of the atomic bomb

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Book cover of Soldiers' Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs, Volume II

Soldiers' Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs, Volume II

By Myra Miller, Kenn Miller

Why this book?

I was so taken by the first handsome volume of Soldiers’ Stories that I submitted stories for this one. The Wilson family story is laid out so well across eleven pages of this treasure. Five brothers served. Only two came home.

There are stories of men and women from every branch of the service, some who survived, some who did not. The memoirs are written by the veterans themselves, by family members, or interested friends.

There are stories about the Manhattan Project, Red Cross workers, Rosie the Riveter, men who have adopted the overseas graves of American fallen, even one…

From the list:

The best books on surprising and compelling WWII stories

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