Dark Sun

The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb
Narrated by: Richard Rhodes
Length: 6 hrs
Categories: History, Americas
4.4 out of 5 stars (321 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb lays bare the secret heart of the Cold War.

Richard Rhodes' landmark history of the atomic bomb won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Now, in this majestic new masterpiece of history, science, and politics, he tells for the first time the secret story of how and why the hydrogen bomb was made, and traces the path by which this supreme artifact of 20th-century technology became the defining issue of the Cold War.

From the day in 1941 when the first word of Anglo-American atomic-bomb research arrived in Moscow to the week of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, DARK SUN is full of unexpected -- and sometimes hair-raising -- revelations based on previously undisclosed Soviet and U.S. sources, including:

  • How the Soviets were able to produce a carbon copy of the first U.S. atomic bomb
  • How the SAC fought for independent control of U.S. nuclear weapons -- while flying deliberately provocative daytime missions over Soviet cities
  • How the first and only direct nuclear confrontation between the superpowers was also very nearly the last

Following the lives of the atomic scientists on both sides of the Iron Curtain, Dark Sun is the definitive work on the hydrogen bomb, showing why the world wars that devastated the first half of the century can never happen again.

©1996 Richard Rhodes (P)2004 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about Dark Sun

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Abridged??

It would be much better to have the entire book. They cut out one of the parts I had most wanted to hear; apparently he discusses the reasons why thermonuclear bombs aren't made as destructive as technologically feasible. Who knows what else is missing from this version.

Otherwise the book is quite good, a nice balance of technology, biography, and politics. And a good reality check on what nuclear stockpiles really entail for society.

Rhodes is not the smoothest reader in the world, but I enjoyed hearing the author reading his own writing.

25 people found this helpful

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Abridged

Not the full book, which is wonderful. It skips through so much content there is a lack of balance throughout.

7 people found this helpful

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Abridged

I Did not realize the book had been abridged. Would have preferred the whole story.

10 people found this helpful

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Far too abridged

My feeling is that 75% of the content must have been cut in abridging this audiobook. It feels extremely rushed and lacking details, especially compared to The Making of the Atomic Bomb. In this abridged form it's a waste of time. Read the paper book.

7 people found this helpful

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Incredibly Disappointing Follow Up

The Making of the Atomic Bomb is my favorite audiobook; its narrator manages to pace and deliver Rhodes' nuanced portraits of scientists and in-depth technical explanations perfectly. It's deep and comprehensive, laying out a clear path through the meandering half century between the birth of nuclear physics and the Trinity test. The complete ~900 page book takes an appropriate 37 hours; there are no jumps or missing links.. Dark Sun fails to live up to its predecessor's standard. Rhodes is a decent narrator, but he lacks the performance skill of a professional. He is, however, an incredible author and researcher. Unfortunately, he seriously undermines his own work by abridging it. Trimming down ~800 pages into six hours results in a hack job; the smooth logical progression that characterized The Making of the Atomic bomb are lost. Towards the end, critical portions are removed and transitions feel jumpy. Characters are often one dimensional, having been stripped of exposition and background stories. Worst yet, the audio book manages to spoil some of the best passages in the book by stripping them of their context. If you liked Making of the Atomic Bomb for it's depth and completeness, I'd highly recommend skipping this audio book. It ruins Rhodes' excellent work. Read the unabridged print or kindle edition instead. Reading the entire book is made harder by having listened to only the highlights. It's like being served only the appetizers and desert from a 7 course meal; it ruins your appetite for what would otherwise be a great experience.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

eh

it was ok. but it never really gave the level of detail that made the first book so overwhelmingly good.

2 people found this helpful

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Not as good as The Atom Bomb

I love Richard Rhodes, but the Making of the Atom Bomb was simply superb. This book was less detailed, had less compelling narrative, and was much less engaging.

2 people found this helpful

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A little tough going but worth it

Fascinating book. I wish it were available in an unabridged version. Some of the technical descriptions of the various bomb designs are a little hard going. You really need diagrams to follow them. But the descriptions of the people and politics were excellent. The author turns out to be an exceptionally good narrator. If you want to learn something about arguably the most important era in modern history then check out this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Read Twice, Listened Twice

What did you love best about Dark Sun?

The combination of deep insight into the people plus the large-scale history including some extremely important things which no one talks about.

What other book might you compare Dark Sun to and why?

Rhodes' other book The Making of the Atomic Bomb.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Rhodes is not the best narrator. I've seen him in videos on this topic and he's a bit more interesting, but audio only... could be better. Sorry but he should stick to writing. I like him, don't get me wrong...

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No

Any additional comments?

You will not believe what the US did (and allowed) in the name of Lend Lease. Read it to find out!

4 people found this helpful

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Still worth it

Yes it's abridged and I wish audible had the full version. I also wish a good reader (maybe Scott Brick?) performed it. Nevertheless - it's a good story with good general coverage of how the nuclear arms race happened. Good quick sketches of Teller, Oppenheimer, and Lemay, Locations from Los Alamos to Siberia to Bikini. At the very least it can point you towards other things you might want to read about. Overall a rewarding listen and worth a credit despite obvious shortcomings.

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Profile Image for Y. Syed
  • Y. Syed
  • 06-16-15

Essential history

The Thermal nuclear weapons, the science, the history, the politics, the espionage, the arms-race and the Cold War; all in one book.
I wish that the author's "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" was also available as an audiobook.
Also wish that both were available as unabridged…

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bart Pander
  • 02-25-20

Abridged version

I loved reading Richard Roads other books listening was good as well. However what enjoyed especially about his books is his care for important details. I have the feeling this book was abridged a bit to rigorous.