Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The Manhattan Project: a Selected, Annotated Bibliography of Books in the Collection of St. Louis Public Library


Albright, Joseph and Marcia Kunstel. Bombshell: the Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy. New York: Times Books, 1997. 399 p. Photographs; bibliography; index. Central-HU 327.1247073

Story of the Soviet atomic bomb spy ring that focuses on Ted Hall, a physics prodigy who joined the Manhattan Project when he was only 18 years old. Although he worked as a spy for the Soviets for years, he managed to avoid detection until part of the Soviet archives became public in the 1990s, by which time he was retired and living in England.

Astor, Gerald. Operation Iceberg: the Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1995. 480 p. Photographs; maps; bibliography; cast of characters; index. Central-HG 940.5425

Persons wishing to justify the avoidance of an invasion of the Japanese homeland by any means necessary need look no further than the invasion of Okinawa in May 1945. Okinawa, an island approximately halfway between the Philippine Islands and Tokyo, was a perfect jumping-off point for either an invasion of Japan or for saturation bombing of the Japanese mainland. Capturing the island from its 100,000 Japanese defenders resulted in 7,700 American soldiers KIA and 31,800 WIA, with further damage to the American fleet of 5,000 sailors and 34 ships lost, and 5,000 seamen wounded. Invasion planners used the examples of Iwo Jima and Okinawa to help them project estimates of the number of American casualties an invasion of Japan might produce (estimates ranged from a low of 250,000 to a high of 1,000,000). Such a potentially high cost in American lives was a major factor in President Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and thus avoid an invasion of the Japanese homeland.

Bernstein, Jeremy. Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2004. 223 p. Photographs; illustrations; index. Central-HU, BU B

Biography by a man who knew Oppenheimer when he was teaching at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton in the late 1950s. The author has uncovered some remarkable stories about his subject, including the fact that other campers at a summer camp Oppenheimer attended while a teen painted his bottom and genitals green and locked him naked in an icehouse overnight. A life that included both that experience and the Trinity explosion on July 16, 1945, must have been an interesting one, indeed, and Bernstein does a great job of illuminating in a relatively small number of pages the life of a most complex individual.

Bird, Kai, and Martin J. Sherwin. American Prometheus: the Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. NY: Alfred Knopf, 2005. 721 p. Photographs; bibliography; index. Central-HU, BU, CP, KI

The Pulitzer Prize-winning full-length biography of Oppenheimer is the first to tackle all aspects of his life: scientific, political, and personal. The authors read through thousands of pages of archival records, including massive FBI files, and interviewed one hundred Oppenheimer relatives, friends, and associates. The results of their hard work are visible on every page.

Conant, Jennet. 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. 424 p. Photographs; maps; bibliography; index. Central-HG, BU 623, 45119

A study of the Manhattan Project's Los Alamos facility that takes as its main characters J. Robert Oppenheimer, Los Alamos project director, and Dorothy McKibbin, receptionist and "gatekeeper" at Los Alamos. The author is the granddaughter of James B. Conant, a scientist and Manhattan Project top administrator. The book includes a look at the 1950s hearings during which Oppenheimer was stripped of his security clearance due to past association with known Communists, and describes the sad fates of Oppenheimer, his wife, and his daughter.

De Groot, Gerard J. The Bomb: a Life. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. 397 p. Photographs; bibliography; index. Central-HG, HU 623.4511909

An entertaining (yet highly critical) look at the development of nuclear weapons, including lengthy sections on the Manhattan project and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. The author's lengthy research includes lots of interesting details about the period, including the fact that when Paul Tibbets, pilot of the plane that dropped the Hiroshima bomb, tried to show a film of the Trinity bomb test to his flight crew, the projector jammed. Tibbets then had to attempt to describe to the crew the contents of the film. A crewman who witnessed Tibbets' talk said, "It was like some weird dream," although, at that time, he could not have known how right he was. We also learn that, at the time of the atomic bombing, the population of Hiroshima included approximately 5,000 American citizens- the children of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent who had been detained for security reasons by the American government.

Copyright © 2009 by St. Louis Public Library. All rights reserved.

See a complete list of bibliographies and indexes on the St. Louis Public Library website:

Thomas A. Pearson
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library

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