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The Bomb

The Bomb

A Life

Gerard J. DeGroot

ISBN 9780674022355

Publication date: 10/31/2006

Bombs are as old as hatred itself. But it was the twentieth century--one hundred years of incredible scientific progress and terrible war--that brought forth the Big One, the Bomb, humanity's most powerful and destructive invention. In The Bomb: A Life, Gerard DeGroot tells the story of this once unimaginable weapon that--at least since 8:16 a.m. on August 6, 1945--has haunted our dreams and threatened our existence.

The Bomb has killed hundreds of thousands outright, condemned many more to lingering deaths, and made vast tracts of land unfit for life. For decades it dominated the psyches of millions, becoming a touchstone of popular culture, celebrated or decried in mass political movements, films, songs, and books. DeGroot traces the life of the Bomb from its birth in turn-of-the-century physics labs of Europe to a childhood in the New Mexico desert of the 1940s, from adolescence and early adulthood in Nagasaki and Bikini, Australia and Kazakhstan to maturity in test sites and missile silos around the globe. His book portrays the Bomb's short but significant existence in all its scope, providing us with a portrait of the times and the people--from Oppenheimer to Sakharov, Stalin to Reagan--whose legacy still shapes our world.


  • Gerard DeGroot...has produced a timely account of mankind's most awful invention, wrly wrapped as a biography...This is a clever cocktail of reportage, analysis and anecdote, from the physics of the bomb's conception to the B-movies it inspired (notably Night of the Lepus, in which the world is threatened by giant mutant rabbits.) There are also some well-aimed blows at the late Ronald Reagan, who despite hagiographical obituaries tinkered with the superpower balance with a dangerous whimsy.

    —Peter Millar, The Times


  • Gerard J. DeGroot is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. His many books include The First World War and A Noble Cause?: America and the Vietnam War.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 1-5/16 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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