Three books published within the last year bring different perspectives to the history of the Manhattan Project and the development of nuclear weapons. In Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age, Washington Post reporter Dan Zak focuses on the 2012 incident when three peace activists, including an 82-year-old Catholic nun, broke into the Y-12 complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Using the break-in as a jumping-off point, Zak traces the development and impact of nuclear weapons from the Manhattan Project through the Cold War to today. Click here to read historian and AHF Board Member Richard Rhodes’s review of Zak’s book.
Richard Cook’s Ignored Heroes of World War II: The Manhattan Project Workers of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, uses historic photographs and excerpts from oral history interviews to chronicle life at Oak Ridge during the Manhattan Project. In these oral histories, taken from the collection of the Center for Oak Ridge Oral History (COROH), Oak Ridge residents recall dances, social life, rationing, work in the production plants, and many other aspects of life in the “Secret City.” Cook argues that Oak Ridgers’ contributions to ending World War II have been under-recognized: “Their experiences form one of the great untold epic stories of American history. It is time to honor their stories.”
Ari Beser’s The Nuclear Family was published in 2015, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This history is personal for Beser: his grandfather Jacob Beser was the only man who served on the strike planes on both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing missions. Another grandfather was a friend of a hibakusha, a bombing survivor. In recent years, Beser has traveled to Japan to interview hibakusha. The Nuclear Family shares Japanese and American perspectives on the atomic bombings, and seeks to promote reconciliation more than seventy years after the end of World War II.