This one is a big “WOW.” Sheinkin weaves three stories together: 1) Robert Oppenheimer leading the Manhattan Project (especially the part in Los Alamos, New Mexico) to design and build an atomic bomb before the Germans can. 2) The effort by British Special Operations to destroy Germany’s ability to build their bomb, focused on the incredibly brave secret mission by Norwegian underground fighters to destroy the Vemork Heavy Water factory in Norway. 3) The Russian spies who successfully stole the plans to the atomic bomb and passed them to Russsia, leading to the Cold War’s nuclear standoff.
Sheinkin involves the reader by focusing on the stories of the people involved, from Oppenheimer and physicists like Richard Feynman to Norwegian hero Knut Haukelid, and to Americans turned Russian spies: Harry Gold and Ted Hall. The book reads like a combination of war epic and spy thriller. Sheinkin read dozens of books and hundreds of declassified government documents to prepare for this telling and there is an extensive bibliography if you want to pursue any story line further. Let me give this one more “Wow!” Author: Steve Sheinkin
Recommended by: Steve Bridge, Irvington Branch Library