Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

By: Steve Sheinkin

As Allies thwarted Nazi efforts to build an atomic bomb, Americans rushed to create their own nuclear weapon—unaware that the Soviets were stealing their plans. Epilogue. Source notes. Quotation notes. Index. Black-and-white photographs.

ISBN: 9781596434875

JLG Release: Oct 2012


Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Mentions of suicide, Graphic descriptions of bomb-induced injuries
Topics: History of the atomic bomb , World War II (1939-1945) , Soviet Secret service , British Secret service , Commando operations , Vemork, Norway , Operation Freshman, 1942

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Awards & Honors

NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K—12: 2013; 2013 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults,Winner; SLJ Best Children’s Books 2012, Nonfiction; Horn Book Fanfare 2012, Nonfiction; Bulletin Blue Ribbon 2012, Nonfiction; VOYAs Perfect Tens 2102; 2103 Newbery Medal Honor Book; 2013 Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner; 2012 Cybils Award Winner, Nonfiction for Tweens and Teens; ALSC 2013 Notable Children’s Books, Middle Readers; NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2013, World History & Culture; William Allen White Children#8217;s Book Awards 2014–2015 Master List

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine*, Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
“Harry Gold was right: This is a big story.” So begins this depiction of the “creation—and theft—of the deadliest weapon ever invented.” As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in
[STARRED REVIEW]
“Harry Gold was right: This is a big story.” So begins this depiction of the “creation—and theft—of the deadliest weapon ever invented.” As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that’s the beauty of it.—Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL

Horn Book

[STARRED REVIEW]
While comprehensive in his synthesis of the political, historical, and scientific aspects of the creation of the first nuclear weapon, Sheinkin focuses his account with an extremely alluring angle: the spies. The book opens in 1950 with the confession of Harry Gold—but to what? And thus we flash back to Robert Oppe
[STARRED REVIEW]
While comprehensive in his synthesis of the political, historical, and scientific aspects of the creation of the first nuclear weapon, Sheinkin focuses his account with an extremely alluring angle: the spies. The book opens in 1950 with the confession of Harry Gold—but to what? And thus we flash back to Robert Oppenheimer in the dark 1930s, as he and readers are handed another question by the author: “But how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?” Oppenheimer’s realization that an atomic bomb could be created to use against Nazi Germany is coupled with the knowledge that the Germans must be working from the same premise, and the Soviets are close behind. We periodically return to Gold’s ever-deepening betrayals as well as other acts of espionage, most excitingly the two stealth attacks on occupied Norway’s Vemork power plant, where the Germans were manufacturing heavy water to use in their own nuclear program. As he did in the 2011 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner The Notorious Benedict Arnold (rev. 1/11), Sheinkin here maintains the pace of a thriller without betraying history (source notes and an annotated bibliography are exemplary) or skipping over the science; photo galleries introducing each section help readers organize the events and players. Writing with journalistic immediacy, the author eschews editorializing up through the chilling last lines: “It’s a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you’re in it.” Index. roger sutton

Junior Library Guild

  • Incisive and exciting, Steve Sheinkin’s stellar history has the pacing of a thriller. A riveting prologue, set in 1950, plunges readers into the story as FBI agents corner Harry Gold, a spy for the Soviets and a central figure in the book.
  • Individuals, including Norwegian resistance fighters, scientists, pilots, survivors o
    • Incisive and exciting, Steve Sheinkin’s stellar history has the pacing of a thriller. A riveting prologue, set in 1950, plunges readers into the story as FBI agents corner Harry Gold, a spy for the Soviets and a central figure in the book.
    • Individuals, including Norwegian resistance fighters, scientists, pilots, survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima, and world leaders are fleshed out with vivid descriptions. For example, Robert Oppenheimer, a skinny, chain-smoking professor who later became technical director of the Manhattan Project, is introduced with a memorable anecdote about how he once left a date in his car at the Golden Gate Bridge to take a walk and ended up forgetting about her and going home to bed.
    • Illuminating quotes and details bring immediacy to one extraordinary situation after another. A chapter called “Disappearing Scientists,” for instance, includes this startlingly curt job interview of a potential Los Alamos scientist:
      “What kind of a job?”
      “Can’t say. “
      “Well, where is it?”
      “Can’t say.”
      “East or west?”
      “Sorry, my lips are sealed. Think it over and let me know in the morning.”
    • The suspense builds as scenes of Los Alamos scientists working to overcome staggering obstacles (such as using a dental drill to repair holes in the “very unstable” plastic explosives designed to ignite the bomb’s chain reaction) are intercut with descriptions of trusted coworkers secretly delivering detailed bomb designs into the hands of Soviet spies.
    • Particularly intriguing are German scientists’ responses to the bombing of Hiroshima. Some didn’t believe the Allies had a “real atomic bomb.” Otto Hahn, the scientist whose discovery of fission had made the weapon possible, was completely shattered and felt he was to blame: “I thank God on my bended knees that we did not make the uranium bomb,” he said.
    • Sheinkin concludes this important work by directly addressing readers with a powerful statement: “It’s a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you’re in it.”

Book Details

ISBN

9781596434875

First Release

October 2012

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

623.4/5119

Trim Size

7 3/8" x 9 1/8"

Page Count

272

Accelerated Reader

Level 6.9; Points: 10;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 6.4; Points: 15;

Lexile

Level 920L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Roaring Brook

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Mild language, Violence, Mentions of suicide, Graphic descriptions of bomb-induced injuries

Topics

History of the atomic bomb, World War II (1939-1945), Soviet Secret service, British Secret service, Commando operations, Vemork, Norway, Operation Freshman, 1942,

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