Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Horns of the Bull: British Tragedy and Triumph at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift


Rorke's Drift (22-23 January 1879):

22 January 1879 - Zulu reserves sent to attack Rorke's Drift.
8 AM- Lt. Chard rides toward Isandlwana to check on orders, but is warned away by mounted sentries and sees a party of Zulus moving across the Plateau in the general direction of Rorke's Drift. Chard arrives at the Drift at noon; he tells Major Spalding there but no action is taken.
2 PM- Maj. Spalding leaves to speed up relief column being sent from Helpmekaar. Lt. Chard, left in command by Spalding, watches the Buffalo River and soon sees Isandlwana survivors crossing the river and hears distant rifle fire.
2:30 PM- Two lieutenants report the defeat at Isandlwana to Chard, then ride on to Helpmekaar after warning the men at Rorke's Drift.
3 PM- Chard assumes command at the mission station as a defensive wall is built with meelie bags, biscuit boxes, and two wagons.
3:30 PM- Men return from the Drift with a water cart and tools on orders from Chard, who returns with them.
4:30 PM- Chard orders six men to guard the hospital, readies reserve ammunition, and orders men to fix bayonets. A lookout is posted on the ridgepole of the mission store.
5 PM- As the Zulu approach, local defense forces and the native contingent depart, reducing Chard's command from 350 to 139 (30 of them sick in the hospital). Work continues on the improvised wall around the station.
5:30 PM- Initial Zulu attack is from the south; is beaten back by steady rifle fire. New attack comes from west of the hospital along the thinly held northern wall. Zulus armed with rifles commence sniping from nearby hill.
6 PM- Zulu attack continues- British defenders are forced to retire into the yard, weakening the defenses of the hospital.
6:20-7:15 PM- Zulus concentrate attack on hospital; some occupants are killed in their beds, other manage to flee through hole cut in hospital wall. Hospital is on fire, but light from the fire helps British defenders track the movements of the Zulus.
7 PM-Midnight- British fend off wave after wave of Zulu attackers.

23 January 1879- 4 AM- Zulus retire from the battleground.
8 AM- Rorke's Drift defenders are relieved by column under Lord Chelmsford.

Casualties at Rorke's Drift: The British suffered 17 men killed (15 KIA and two mortally wounded) and 10 wounded at Rorke's Drift, of the 139 men present when the battle began (19% casualty rate). A majority of the 17 dead men were killed by rifle fire (only patients in or defenders in the hospital were stabbed to death with the Ikwa). 350 or so Zulu dead were found on the field at Rorke's Drift after the battle-- many wounded warriors were borne away from the battlefield by their fellow warriors (Zulu casualty rate was at least 25%).

Eleven British soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions at Rorke's Drift, the most awarded for a single military action in British history. While these men most certainly earned their awards, there also seems to be little doubt that authorities back home in bestowing this bumper crop of awards for heroism under fire were hoping to divert attention from the British disaster at Isandlwana to the British miracle at Rorke's Drift.


Clammer, David. The Zulu War. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1973.
Edgerton, Robert B. Like Lions They Fought: the Zulu War and the Last Black Empire in South Africa. NY: Free Press, 1988.
Glover, Michael. Rorke's Drift: a Victorian Epic. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1975.
Greaves, Adrian. Crossing the Buffalo: the Zulu War of 1879. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
Knight, Ian. Great Zulu Battles 1838-1906. London: Arms & Armour, 1998.
Morris, Donald R. The Washing of the Spears: a History of the Rise of the Zulu Nation Under
Shaka and Its Fall in the Zulu War of 1879
. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1986.
Snook, Mike. Like Wolves on the Fold: the Defence of Rorke's Drift. London: Greenhill, 2006.
Taylor, Stephen. Shaka's Children: a History of the Zulu People. London: HarperCollins, 1995.

Thomas A. Pearson, Reference Librarian
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library

Link to our other indexes and bibliographies:

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

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Horns of the Bull: British Tragedy and Triumph at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift



11 December 1878- British ultimatum to Zulu King Cetshwayo.
12 December 1878-10 January 1879- British forces assemble along Zululand border in preparation for invasion.
11 January 1879- British invade Zululand, leaving small garrison and hospital at Rorke's Drift.

Isandlwana (22 January 1879): Isandlwana (it was a large irregular-shaped height) lay about ten miles out from Rorke's Drift. Lord Chelmsford camped there because heavy rains required that the road they were following be repaired. The area around Isandlwana offered a plentiful supply of drinking water and driftwood for fires, and appeared to offer the field of fire that Chelmsford felt was necessary. He did not, however, order the men to entrench, since he believed that superior British weapons afforded him an insuperable advantage over the Zulus.

The position was not as impregnable as Lord Chelmsford imagined, however. The large area of open ground was in fact pitted with numerous gullies that were obscured by brush and through which fairly large groups of Zulus could pass undetected by British sentries. He also elected not to circle (laager) his wagons, even though it would have made his position more secure, because doing so was a complicated business, and some of the wagons were to be sent back shortly to Rorke's Drift to resupply. He did set out pickets and a mounted vidette, although these early warning systems were posted much closer to camp than officers in Chelmsford's Native Contingent advised. Chelmsford also sent a mounted patrol out towards the east, which reported no sign of Zulus, although reports were filtering in of Zulu activity to the south (the direction from which it would be least expected).

On the morning of 22 January 1879, Lord Chelmsford himself set off with 2,500 men to do a reconnoiter of the area where Zulus had supposedly been sighted in force. He also took four guns with his column. This left a force of around 2,000 men to defend the camp at Isandlwana. Of these, 1,168 were Natal volunteer force troops or Natal Native Contingent.

Shortly before noon on 22 January 1879, a British patrol crested a rise and found themselves in the midst of a Zulu army. This army was composed of at least 20,000 Zulu warriors. The British fired one volley and quickly withdrew, sending messengers in the meantime to warn other patrols, Chelmsford, and the camp at Isandlwana.

As the main Zulu column approached the camp (around 12:30), artillery fire greeted them. Apparently, this fire began while the Zulu were still well out of range, so the fire did little damage to the Zulu. When they got closer, the Zulu closest to the guns threw themselves down when they saw the gunners step away from their guns (an indication the gun was about to be fired).

The Zulu advanced in 20 or so well-disciplined rows, the chest and left horn appearing to observers to be maintaining somewhat better order than the right horn. The British regulars at this point, however, were well-ordered, and their continuous and very accurate fire kept the Zulu attack at bay at a range of around 400 yards (the Martini-Henry's optimum firing distance). Some Zulus were armed with the same weapon, but their fire did much less damage (reports said that they generally fired high and did little damage to the British).

The British maintained discipline and a steady, controlled fire for approximately one hour, at which time their line disintegrated and all hell broke loose. It has been suggested that the British had trouble getting ammunition boxes open and in getting ammunition to the firing line, but the ammunition boxes were secured with one screw that could dislodged if necessary with a gun butt. Testimony of several survivors suggests that bandsmen and wagon drivers were set to work carrying ammunition to the firing line.

Two other problems that may have contributed to the British collapse have been suggested. The first suggests that continuous firing of the Martini-Henry often caused problems with the weapon's lever action, and a cartridge in the chamber would have to be removed by hand before the weapon could be fired again. Testimony mentioning this difficulty, however, concerns the Natal volunteers and the Natal Native Contingent, not British regulars.

The third problem suggested is smoke. Continuous firing of artillery and black powder firearms raising a choking, sight-obscuring cloud of black smoke that makes it hard to breathe and hard to see your targets. In the time shortly before the British collapse, the regulars were mostly firing blind, hoping to hit a Zulu in the smoke and confusion.

Once a withdrawal from camp was apparently ordered by the senior officer (two survivors reported that it began before the bugle command to do so), the British firing line disintegrated and the Zulu rushed forward to follow the retreating men. Testimony from Zulu attackers and British survivors suggests that the men in the firing line were stretched too thin, and that there were perceptible gaps between units in the firing line.

An often overlooked reason for the British collapse, of course, was the bravery and determination of the attacking Zulu. As George Pickett said when asked why the advance named for him had failed, "I think the Union Army had something to do with it." British firepower initially stalled the Zulu attack-- they had never before faced such weapons. But attackers were reformed and the attack pressed forward, in spite of terrible losses in the front ranks of the attackers. There is no definitive count of Zulu casualties at Isandlwana, but best estimates place Zulu dead on the field at 1,000 or slightly higher. Many other Zulu warriors were wounded, however, many badly so-- and with medical care available to Zulu battle casualties rudimentary at best, it seems highly likely that many additional warriors died later due to wounds received at Isandlwana.

Casualties at Isandlwana: The majority of British casualties were caused by the Ikwa-- the Zulu stabbing spear, with a much lesser number caused by the throwing spear. Some British casualties were caused by small arms fire, partly from older weapons Zulu had acquired prior to the war, the rest from Martini-Henry rifles picked up from soldiers killed earlier that day. Since the Zulu were not trained in the use of those weapons, however, they were not as deadly as they were in the hands of British regulars. Soldiers who were not killed outright in the Zulu attack were killed by being disemboweled-- the Zulu believed that doing so was necessary to release the spirit of a warrior (friend or foe) into the afterlife, and that failing to do so meant that your own belly would bloat like a dead man's and kill you. No wounded soldiers survived-- all were killed by the Zulu. There was also some mutilation of British corpses beyond the ritual emboweling-- some soldiers were also beheaded, along with other, even more unsettling desecrations. A press report after the battle noted that two drummer boys had been mutilated while still alive, although experts disagree on whether the boys were dead or alive when the mutilations took place (the report did bring to an end the practice of taking drummer boys in the field with their regiments). Looting of corpses also occurred, in part because Zulu superstition demanded that a warrior take an article of clothing from a man he had killed. The Zulu also killed every animal in the British entourage- horses, oxen, and dogs.

A majority of Zulu casualties were caused by small arms fire, specifically fire from the Martini-Henry rifle. Accounts of the battle in later years by Zulu survivors mention, however, that when ammunition for rifles ran out, soldiers used pistols, bayonets, and the butts of their rifles as clubs. Some soldiers were killed while attempting to flee towards the Buffalo River, but a majority were killed in groups in and around the camp at Isandlwana.

Thomas A. Pearson, Reference Librarian
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library

Link to our other indexes and bibliographies:

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Horns of the Bull: British Tragedy and Triumph at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift


The British Army: The British Army in 1878-1879 had neither the prestige nor the political clout of the Royal Navy. Conditions for enlisted men were abysmal, and the pay exceedingly low. Since there was no conscription at that time, enlisted recruits generally were men who had few other options. Men enlisted for six years, with an additional six-year reserve commitment. British regiments consisted (on paper at least) of two battalions-- one at a home depot in Great Britain, while its partner battalion was deployed overseas. The army in 1878, however, was small enough that in some instances both battalions of a regiment were in fact overseas-- the 24th Regiment of Foot was unusual, however, in that both its 1st and 2nd Battalions were deployed in the Zululand Campaign.

British troops were supplemented with Natal volunteer units and the Natal Native Contingent, which was formed with native levies. Chelmsford had eight Natal volunteer units, and seven Natal Native Contingent battalions at his disposal, and also had 1,200 men of the volunteer Frontier Light Horse available. The problem with his Natal volunteer and Native Contingent units, of course, was that they had neither the training nor the discipline of his British regulars.

British Weapons: The British Army employed the Martini-Henry .45 caliber single-shot, breech-loading, lever-action rifle. It was a reliable and accurate weapon, capable in the hands of an expert marksman of downing a target at 1,000 yards, and rear-sighted for a firing distance of 400 yards. Its muzzle velocity was 375 yards, or 1/5 of a mile, per second. It fired a soft lead bullet that flattened on impact, wreaking havoc on bones and soft tissue. The Martini-Henry rifle was used in combination with a 21 ½ inch bayonet known as a "lunger."

British Strategy and Tactics: Lord Chelmsford, senior commander of British forces in Zululand, elected to divide his forces and ordered them to advance and then converge on Cethswayo's main homestead. During the advance, they were to destroy as many Zulu amakhanda as possible, thus limiting the capacity of the Zulu to carry on a military campaign of any length. Chelmsford hoped to provoke an attack on open level ground, where it was assumed that British military discipline and firepower would more than compensate for British inferiority in numbers (Chelmsford had 16,000 men, including a not-so-reliable as he might have hoped native contingent, while Cethswayo had at least 40,000 men at his disposal, nearly 30,000 of whom were estimated by reliable observers to have been mustered by Cethswayo for his war with the British). This was ironic, in that Cethswayo also hoped for a decisive battle on open level ground, where he thought Zulu superior numbers and Shaka's Horns of the Bull tactics could inflict a telling defeat on the British. He specifically cautioned his war chiefs, however, against attacking entrenched British troops, for Cethswayo thought that taking such a strong position, while possible, would prove too costly for the Zulu.

Chelmsford's main columns crossed into Zululand at Rorke's Drift, while a much smaller unit under Colonel Charles Pearson crossed into Zululand at the Lower Drift near the mouth of the Tugela River. Some British regulars were left behind in Natal, partly to guard against Zulu incursions, and partly to keep an eye on the Boers. British intentions were painfully obvious to the Boers, many of whom then refused to take any part in the British invasion of Zululand.

British supplies had to transported by oxen, who could only move eleven miles per day on good roads in good weather conditions. Chelmsford had no system of supply depots, so each of his columns was obliged to carry all of it own food and equipment, and from its own men to supply a guard for its supply train.

Thomas A. Pearson, Reference Librarian
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library

Link to our other indexes and bibliographies:

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

Friday, December 11, 2009


Horns of the Bull: British Tragedy and Triumph at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift


Location: Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift are located in South Africa, about 60 miles inland from the Indian Ocean near the border where Natal and Zululand meet.

Strategic Importance of the Location: The border between British-controlled Natal and the Zulu kingdom was formed in the north by the Buffalo River, which flowed southwards into the Tugela River. Just south of Rorke's Drift the river dumped into a gorge and became a raging torrent that could only be forded safely at Tugela Drift, 60 miles south and close by the Indian Ocean. To the north and west of Natal and Zululand was the Transvaal, the area claimed by Dutch settlers known as the Boers.

The Zulu Army: The Zulu army was composed of units known as amabutho or impi-- the equivalent in many ways of a European regiment. These units engaged in both military tasks and non-military labors at the behest of the king. Zulu men at 18 were inducted into an amabutho, and served in the unit until such time as the king authorized them to marry (typically when the man was 35-40 years of age). Amabutho were grouped together in military homesteads known as amakhanda. Food and agricultural labor were supplied to the amabutho by female relatives of the warriors. Even after marriage Zulu men served in the king's army in one of its so-called married regiments.

Several amabutho were combined into a corps, with the ages of men in the combined amabutho differing so that older men could help teach the younger ones how to be good warriors. The Zulu army at the time of the Zulu War of 1879 consisted of 34 regiments organized into 12 corps. Seven of these regiments, however, were composed of men too old to actively campaign in the field, so King Cethswayo probably had about 40,000 men actually able to go off to war.

Discipline in the Zulu army was harsh. A man could be killed (normally beaten to death by other warriors) for failing to follow orders or to meet standards of performance. A Zulu army in the field could if necessary march fifty miles or more in a day. They traveled light, with just their spears and shields. Boys 14-18 years of age oversaw a herd of cattle that followed the army; these boys also carried the blankets and sleeping mats of the warriors.

The Legacy of Shaka Zulu: King Shaka Zulu is credited with teaching the Zulu army its aggressive, some would say brutal tactics. It was already aggressive, however, when Shaka took control of a regiment. His innovation was to order warriors in the regiment to melt down their inefficient throwing spears and reshape them as Ikwa, Shaka's famous stabbing spears (the Ikwa name derives from the sucking sound made when the Ikwa was pulled from a victim's body). Zulu warriors carried several throwing spears, and a club or axe, but their weapon of first resort was always the Ikwa. Shaka also had his men make new, smaller shields that could be hooked under an opponent's shield and used to pull it away from his body, so that the Ikwa could do its deadly work. Single men carried colored shields, while married men carried shields made from white cowhide.

Some of Cethswayo's men at the time of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift were in fact armed with firearms, and others were able to gather arms and ammunition from the dead at Isandlwana. Zulu men received no formal training in firearms use or marksmanship, however, and so were less proficient in their use than were the British regulars they faced. The weapons traded to the Zulu prior to the Zulu War of 1879, moreover, were generally older muzzle-loading weapons, not the newer, more accurate breech-loading weapons carried by British soldiers. Finally, the Zulu had no source of spare parts to repair damaged weapons nor men trained to do so, and no equipment or trained men to make new ammunition or reload used cartridges.

Horns of the Bull: Shaka also perfected the Zulu tactic known as Impondo Zankhomo, the Horns of the Bull, in which flankers in a Zulu attack formation (the horns) would encircle an enemy and leave it without means of escape. The main line of Zulus (the chest) would then engage with their Ikwas and attack shields and (usually) slaughter the enemy to the last man. The horns were typically made up of the youngest regiments present, while the chest consisted of the most experienced regiments present. Shaka Zulu was noted for his brutal treatment of enemies, and of allies and kinsmen who failed to meet his expectations. It led to his death, in fact: several of his lieutenants murdered him in a scene reminiscent of the death of Julius Caesar.

Historical Background: The Zulu people had been united and its warriors trained in the art of warfare by King Shaka, who died in 1828. Power passed to Shaka's brother, King Mpande. Mpande had two sons, Mbulazi and Cetshwayo. King Mpande favored Mbulazi, which seemed odd because Mbulazi was a bookish, intellectual type while Cetshwayo was drawn to the military life and studied the life and campaigns of King Shaka. Forces loyal to Cetshwayo attacked British traders in Zululand. King Mpande sent forces under Mbulazi to rein in Cetshwayo. Cetshwayo defeated Mbulazi in a bloody battle at Ndonakusuka. Cetshwayo then ordered the deaths of Mbulazi and five relatives who had supported him, along with thousands of others who had fought for Mbulazi. Thousands of corpses were thrown into the Tugela River, and washed up for weeks afterward at its mouth on the Indian Ocean.

Cetshwayo took over as ruler of Zululand, and proclaimed himself its king after the death of King Mpande in 1872. At this time tension was increasing between the Zulus and their neighbors to the north, the Boers. The Boers occupied the area known as the Transvaal. Boer settlers had been spilling out from the Transvaal and seizing land owned by the Zulu for their farms. A combination of Transvaal financial difficulties and Boer fear of Zulu retaliation led to the British annexation of the Transvaal. This placed a strain on the formerly amiable relations between the British and King Cetshwayo.

Boer settlers continued to pour into Zululand, and Cetshwayo at first looked to the British for help, but finally realized that the British were going to side with the Boers. Some British officials secretly hoped for war with the Zulus, reasoning that 1) victory would be a fairly simple, relatively bloodless affair and that 2) a quick British victory would both placate the Boers and demonstrated to them the military might of the new owners of the Transvaal.

A commission appointed to settle the disputed land claims in Zululand, however, came to the unexpected decision that Boer land claims generally were based on unsigned or forged documents, and that no formal cession of land had ever been made according to long-standing Zulu custom. The British officials who had hoped for war suppressed the commission findings while seeking a way to start a war that both Cetshwayo and officials in London didn't want.

Two minor incidents gave the warmongers their excuse, however-- two adulterous wives of a minor Zulu chief were beaten to death in sight of British troops at Rorke's Drift, and a second Zulu chieftain made a raid on a Boer settler's cattle. Rumors planted in the press by the British that Cetshwayo had 50,000 warriors poised to invade Natal didn't help. A demand was made that Cetshwayo drastically reduce the size and composition of his army, surrender the offending chieftains to the British, and submit every dispute between Zulus and Boers or British settlers to a British official. On his refusal, the British invasion of Zululand began.

Thomas A. Pearson, Reference Librarian
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library

Link to our other indexes and bibliographies:

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

Friday, December 4, 2009


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


Sanger, S. L. Hanford and the Bomb: an Oral History of World War II. Seattle: Living History Press, 1989. 199 p. Photographs; bibliography. Central-ST 623.451

Many people are aware of the Manhattan Project's Los Alamos facility: fewer are aware that workers at other top-secret locations also contributed to the manufacture of the world's first atomic weapons. This is an oral history of the Project's Hanford, Washington facility, which manufactured plutonium to be used in the first bomb. The author interviewed dozens of former Hanford employees in 1986, and allowed them to tell their stories with as few interruptions as possible.

Skates, John Ray. The Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994. 276 p. Maps; bibliography; index. Central-ST 940.5425

Author argues that U.S. insistence on Japanese unconditional surrender made dropping of the atomic bomb a foregone conclusion, when invasion of the Japanese mainland would have been a less costly alternative than has been previously believed, and a naval blockade of Japan as an alternative to invasion was never even seriously considered.

Stern, Philip M. The Oppenheimer Case: Security on Trial. New York: Harper & Row, 1969. 591 p. Notes; index. Central-ST 351.74

J. Robert Oppenheimer, chief scientist of the Manhattan Project, was denounced as a Communist after the war and removed from his government position after revocation of his security clearance. Includes a post-script by Lloyd K. Garrison, Oppenheimer's chief counsel at his loyalty hearings.

Szasz, Ferenc Morton. The Day the Sun Rose Twice: the Story of the Trinity Site Nuclear Explosion, July 16, 1945. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984. 233 p. Central-ST 623.45119

Focuses on the Trinity site in New Mexico, the scene on July 16, 1945, of the detonation of the world's first nuclear weapon. The author provides coverage of the events leading up to the test, and then looks at the aftermath (physical and political) of the blast. The author interviewed numerous persons connected with the Trinity test. One reported that General Leslie Groves, the military man in charge of the Manhattan Project, on viewing the crater created by the Trinity blast, said, "Is that all?" The observer felt that General Groves seemed somewhat disappointed that the hole didn't extend to the center of the earth.

Takaki, Ronald T. Hiroshima: Why America Dropped the Atomic Bomb. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1995. 193 p. Photographs; notes; index. Central-ST, CP 940.5425

Argues that most American principal players in the decision to use the atomic bomb, both civilian and military, had doubts about the morality of their actions. He further suggests that even President Truman, who was always quick to publicly deny any doubts or misgivings about use of the bomb, privately did entertain such doubts.

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

St. Louis Public Library website:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


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


Lamont, Lansing. Day of Trinity. New York: Atheneum, 1965. 333 p. Photographs; maps; bibliography; index. Central-ST 623.4

A study of the Manhattan project from initial construction at the Los Alamos site in spring 1943 to the Trinity site detonation on July 16, 1945. Includes a discussion of the clandestine (and sometimes amusing) ways in which scientific and medical personnel were recruited for the Project. A discussion of cover stories invented to obscure the real purpose of the Los Alamos facility reveals that the site was rumored to be a nudist colony or home for pregnant WACs. One man showed up at the main gate and told guards he'd heard that an American Vatican was being built there, and that he wanted to apply for the job of American Pope.

Lanouette, William. Genius in the Shadows: a Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1992. 587 p. Photographs; notes; bibliography; index. Central-BT B SZILARD

Story of the scientist who first developed the idea of obtaining energy from nuclear chain reactions. Szilard co-designed (with Enrico Fermi) the first nuclear reactor, and (together with Albert Einstein) was the first scientist to pressure the U.S. government into funding atomic research.

Lawren, William. The General and the Bomb: a Biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Director of the Manhattan Project. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1988. Notes; bibliography; glossary; index. Central-ST B GROVES

Colonel (later Major-General) Leslie Groves was the man the Army assigned the job of building and operating the Manhattan Project sites, and riding herd over the soldiers, scientists, and civilian employees of the Project. General Groves was respected but not well-liked by most of his coworkers and subordinates.

Maddox, Robert James. Weapons for Victory: the Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995. 215 p. Bibliography; index. Central-ST, BU, CP 940.5425

Another examination of whether or not it was necessary to use atomic weapons against Japan. One school holds that a decision not to use the Bomb would have meant an invasion of Japan that might have caused 250,000 to 500,000 American casualties and even higher Japanese losses. An opposing school holds that the decision to drop the Bomb was intended to serve a warning to the Soviet Union, then an ally of the U.S. but viewed by many as sure to be its major opponent in the post-war world. Maddox suggests that President Truman's hands were to an extent tied: the decision to use the Bomb had already been made by Roosevelt and his advisers before FDR's death in April 1945. He also suggests that supporters of an invasion of the Japanese homeland vastly underestimate both the number of potential Japanese defenders and the number of American casualties such an invasion would have incurred.

Reminiscences of Los Alamos, 1943-1945. Edited by Lawrence Badash, Joseph O. Hirschfelder, and Herbert P. Broida. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1980. 188 p. Index; biographical notes. Central-ST 623.45119

The editors note in their introduction that a dearth of reminiscences by scientists involved in the Manhattan Project was one factor that motivated them to compile this book of interviews with Project scientists who worked at the Los Alamos facility. Included is an interview with Richard P. Feynman, who would later become famous but was then just "a young graduate student working on his thesis." Feynman notes that Princeton scholars recruited for the Manhattan Project were told not to buy train tickets to Albuquerque in Princeton, because that would probably raise the eyebrows of people not connected with the project. Feynman went ahead and bought his ticket in Princeton anyway, figuring that everybody else would buy their tickets elsewhere. The ticket seller at the train station said, "Oh, so all this stuff is for you!" The security masterminds had remembered to disperse shipment of personnel but not shipment of materiel.

Rhodes, Richard. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986. 886 p. Photographs; maps; diagrams; bibliography; index. BU 623.45119

The story of the half-century of discoveries in physics (1900-1945) that culminated in the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Thorough coverage of the Manhattan Project, and of German and Japanese efforts to build an atomic bomb.

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