The conspiracy to discredit Oppenheimer, occurring at the height of the McCarthy era and sanctioned by a misinformed President Eisenhower, was a watershed in the Cold War, poisoning American politics for decades and creating dangers that haunt us today.
Paperback: 384 pages
Published by Penguin Books
Released March 2006
"... By far the best – the most accurate and detailed – account yet to be written of the deliberate campaign to destroy Oppenheimer and elevate Edward Teller nefariously to power."
– Richard Rhodes
“A rare, behind-the-scenes look at the downfall of the leader of the Manhattan Project ... Through McMillan, the reader is a fly on the wall, watching power shift from the scientists who created the atomic bomb to politicians who hoped to use nuclear weapons for their own gain. … The book gives readers a front-row seat from which to watch Truman and Eisenhower struggle with the unimaginable power of the hydrogen bomb, the new enemy in Josef Stalin, suspected enemies operating in America, and McCarthyism.”
– Christian Science Monitor, August 2005
“This compact study elegantly parses a central accusation in the case: that Oppenheimer was disloyal for opposing the hydrogen bomb – essentially, for voicing his opinion. … The author concludes … that scientists today rarely speak out, because they rely on military funding to pursue research.”
– NY Review of Books, September 2005
Cottrell, Robert, The History Teacher, February 2007 (Vol. 40, No. 2), Page 281-2
The Economist, July 23, 2005, p. 75.
Foreign Affairs, Volume 84, No. 5., P. 74.
Goodchild, Peter, "The Sum of His Parts" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, November/December 2005, p. 63-66. online
Hollinger, David A., "Life in a Force Field," American Scientist, January-February 2006, p. 68-70 online
Hoover, Bob, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 7, 2005.
NY Times Sunday Book Review, August 7, 2005, p. 12.
Powers, Thomas A., "An American Tragedy," NY Review of Books, September 22, 2005. online
Valigra, Lori, "How the Father of the A-bomb Fell From Grace," Christian Science Monitor, August 2, 2005, page 16 online
Part One: 1945-1949
David Lilienthal's Vacation
The Maneuvering Begins
The Halloween Meeting
The Secret Debate
Part Two: 1950
Fission versus Fusion
Part Three: 1951-1952
The Second Lab
A New Era
Part Four: 1952-1954
Sailing Close to the Wind
Two Wild Horses
The Blank Wall
The Hearing Begins
Do We Really Need Scientists?
We Made It—and We Gave It Away