Thursday, September 12, 2013

When truth is as exciting as fiction

I love a good narrative nonfiction book - the kind that tells a fascinating historical story, one with all sorts of implications for our lives now.

One such book is Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, by Steve Sheinkin. It tells the genuinely exciting story of the race to build atomic weapons during World War II.

While Robert Oppenheimer and his team were in Los Alamos developing uranium and plutonium bombs, daring commandos were intent on sabotaging the Nazi efforts to do the same. And Soviet spies were trying to steal the secrets from both. They would succeed, leading to the nuclear escalation of the Cold War.

What was Oppenheimer like?  Who were the saboteurs?  Who were the spies, and why did they do it?  This book delves into their lives, motivations, and the way they felt once the Bomb was a reality.

Harry Gold, soviet spy.
Bomb is marketed for children, and is written at the level an intelligent and well-read eleven-year-old can understand. It’s a great introductory read for adults who are interested in this period, too, and it comes with suggestions for further reading, if you’d like to go more in-depth. (It is also illustrated with excellent photographs of the people, places, and devices described in the book, which I loved. More books should have pictures!)

If it sounds like a great story to you, don’t let the fact that this is a kids’ book bother you. Put it on hold today!

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