The Prometheus Bomb

The Prometheus Bomb

The Manhattan Project and Government in the Dark

Neil J. Sullivan

296 pages
23 photographs, 3 illustrations

Hardcover

December 2016

978-1-61234-815-5

$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

During World War II, the lives of millions of Americans lay precariously in the hands of a few brilliant scientists who raced to develop the first weapon of mass destruction. Elected officials gave the scientists free rein in the Manhattan Project without understanding the complexities and dangers involved in splitting the atom.
 
The Manhattan Project was the first example of a new type of choice for congressmen, presidents, and other government officials: life and death on a national scale. From that moment, our government began fashioning public policy for issues of scientific development, discoveries, and inventions that could secure or threaten our existence and our future. But those same men and women had no training in such fields, did not understand the ramifications of the research, and relied on incomplete information to form potentially life-changing decisions.
 
Through the story of the Manhattan Project, Neil J. Sullivan asks by what criteria the people in charge at the time made such critical decisions. He also ponders how similar judgments are reached today with similar incomprehension from those at the top as our society dives down the potential rabbit hole of bioengineering, nanotechnology, and scientific developments yet to come. 
 

Author Bio

Neil J. Sullivan is a professor in the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College–City University of New York. He has published several books, including The Diamond in the Bronx: Yankee Stadium and the Politics of New York and The Dodgers Move West.
 

Praise

"[An] excellent addition."—Publishers Weekly

“One of our most thoughtful and perceptive political scientists has here explored a pivotal question of modern American governance: ‘How can we trust or control experts when we have no idea what they’re talking about?’. . . Written with the pace and accessibility of a ‘can’t put it down’ novel, The Prometheus Bomb forces us to think and rethink how to maintain a representative democracy in the modern world.”—Dan H. Fenn, founding director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library who also served on the White House staff in the Kennedy administration.

“An absorbing account of perhaps the most consequential, yet casually made, policy decisions in American history. Beautifully written, the book conveys the high drama, stumbling pace, and terrible, unethical risks behind the development of the atom bomb.”—E. S. Savas, professor of public affairs at Baruch College and former assistant secretary for policy development and research in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for President Ronald Reagan
 

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. A Squash Court in Chicago
2. FDR and the Einstein Letter
3. A Bungled Start
4. The President’s Man and the Liberal State
5. MAUD—Working with the British
6. The German Bomb
7. Secrets and Spies
8. Congress Rebounds
9. The Transition to Truman
10. Hiroshima
11. Science and Democracy
Notes
Bibliography
Index
 

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