Wednesday, December 2, 2009


The Manhattan Project: a Selected, Annotated Bibliography of Books in the Collection of St. Louis Public Library


Lamont, Lansing. Day of Trinity. New York: Atheneum, 1965. 333 p. Photographs; maps; bibliography; index. Central-ST 623.4

A study of the Manhattan project from initial construction at the Los Alamos site in spring 1943 to the Trinity site detonation on July 16, 1945. Includes a discussion of the clandestine (and sometimes amusing) ways in which scientific and medical personnel were recruited for the Project. A discussion of cover stories invented to obscure the real purpose of the Los Alamos facility reveals that the site was rumored to be a nudist colony or home for pregnant WACs. One man showed up at the main gate and told guards he'd heard that an American Vatican was being built there, and that he wanted to apply for the job of American Pope.

Lanouette, William. Genius in the Shadows: a Biography of Leo Szilard, the Man Behind the Bomb. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1992. 587 p. Photographs; notes; bibliography; index. Central-BT B SZILARD

Story of the scientist who first developed the idea of obtaining energy from nuclear chain reactions. Szilard co-designed (with Enrico Fermi) the first nuclear reactor, and (together with Albert Einstein) was the first scientist to pressure the U.S. government into funding atomic research.

Lawren, William. The General and the Bomb: a Biography of General Leslie R. Groves, Director of the Manhattan Project. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1988. Notes; bibliography; glossary; index. Central-ST B GROVES

Colonel (later Major-General) Leslie Groves was the man the Army assigned the job of building and operating the Manhattan Project sites, and riding herd over the soldiers, scientists, and civilian employees of the Project. General Groves was respected but not well-liked by most of his coworkers and subordinates.

Maddox, Robert James. Weapons for Victory: the Hiroshima Decision Fifty Years Later. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1995. 215 p. Bibliography; index. Central-ST, BU, CP 940.5425

Another examination of whether or not it was necessary to use atomic weapons against Japan. One school holds that a decision not to use the Bomb would have meant an invasion of Japan that might have caused 250,000 to 500,000 American casualties and even higher Japanese losses. An opposing school holds that the decision to drop the Bomb was intended to serve a warning to the Soviet Union, then an ally of the U.S. but viewed by many as sure to be its major opponent in the post-war world. Maddox suggests that President Truman's hands were to an extent tied: the decision to use the Bomb had already been made by Roosevelt and his advisers before FDR's death in April 1945. He also suggests that supporters of an invasion of the Japanese homeland vastly underestimate both the number of potential Japanese defenders and the number of American casualties such an invasion would have incurred.

Reminiscences of Los Alamos, 1943-1945. Edited by Lawrence Badash, Joseph O. Hirschfelder, and Herbert P. Broida. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1980. 188 p. Index; biographical notes. Central-ST 623.45119

The editors note in their introduction that a dearth of reminiscences by scientists involved in the Manhattan Project was one factor that motivated them to compile this book of interviews with Project scientists who worked at the Los Alamos facility. Included is an interview with Richard P. Feynman, who would later become famous but was then just "a young graduate student working on his thesis." Feynman notes that Princeton scholars recruited for the Manhattan Project were told not to buy train tickets to Albuquerque in Princeton, because that would probably raise the eyebrows of people not connected with the project. Feynman went ahead and bought his ticket in Princeton anyway, figuring that everybody else would buy their tickets elsewhere. The ticket seller at the train station said, "Oh, so all this stuff is for you!" The security masterminds had remembered to disperse shipment of personnel but not shipment of materiel.

Rhodes, Richard. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986. 886 p. Photographs; maps; diagrams; bibliography; index. BU 623.45119

The story of the half-century of discoveries in physics (1900-1945) that culminated in the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Thorough coverage of the Manhattan Project, and of German and Japanese efforts to build an atomic bomb.

Copyright © 2009 by St. Louis Public Library. All rights reserved.

See a complete list of bibliographies and indexes on the St. Louis Public Library website:

Thomas A. Pearson
Special Collections Department
St. Louis Public Library

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