• The Making of the Atomic Bomb

  • 25th Anniversary Edition
  • By: Richard Rhodes
  • Narrated by: Holter Graham
  • Length: 37 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (3,482 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Here for the first time, in rich human, political, and scientific detail, is the complete story of how the bomb was developed, from the turn-of-the-century discovery of the vast energy locked inside the atom to the dropping of the first bombs on Japan.

Few great discoveries have evolved so swiftly - or have been so misunderstood. From the theoretical discussions of nuclear energy to the bright glare of Trinity, there was a span of hardly more than 25 years. What began as merely an interesting speculative problem in physics grew into the Manhattan Project and then into the bomb with frightening rapidity, while scientists known only to their peers - Szilard, Teller, Oppenheimer, Bohr, Meitner, Fermi, Lawrence, and yon Neumann - stepped from their ivory towers into the limelight.

Richard Rhodes takes us on that journey step by step, minute by minute, and gives us the definitive story of man's most awesome discovery and invention. The Making of the Atomic Bomb has been compared in its sweep and importance to William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It is at once a narrative tour de force and a document as powerful as its subject.

©1995 Richard Rhodes (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

What listeners say about The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow... Grade A+ ... Exceptional.

This book has some dense topics and could get bogged down in explanations. But instead it flows effortlessly.

Politics, physics, engineering, culture, warfare, isolationism, human factors, history...
All explained thoroughly, smoothly, and entertainingly!

At no point does it feel like you are learning physics. But he starts by giving a good solid entertaining history of the physics needed for the later engineering and political discussions.

I listen to many nonfiction audiobooks and I've never heard Holter Graham before. But he is immediately one of my very favorites. He does a wonderful job keeping the material fun.

This book won every non-Fiction award and still stands up today. If you are interested in this topic you will not find a better book than this. There is no acceptable reason not to select this book if you like this topic.

50 people found this helpful

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Beware limitations of the reader

I wish they had persuaded author Richard Rhoads to do the reading himself. Graham is a proficient voice actor but I find this reading difficult to listen to for two reasons: Firstly, the recording is too fast; I have to slow the audio to 3/4 speed. Perhaps this was forced on him due to the length of the book, but the reading speed seems forced. Secondly, and this is less forgivable, the reader is evidently quite unfamiliar with the subject matter and has not done proper preparation. This shows up in mispronunciations of the names of many of the key players of this story, famous men of physics who are well known—people like Theodore von Karman, John von Neumann, Bernhard Riemann, Hans Geiger, and others. Inexplicable are mispronunciations of regular English words. I urge Audible to make a stronger effort to achieve accurate readings of their audio books. These deficiencies are preventable, and should be prevented.

34 people found this helpful

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Epic Story, Nice Physics History, Poor Narration

What did you love best about The Making of the Atomic Bomb?

History of Physics.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Holter Graham?

I would find a narrator who takes responsibility for pronouncing names and foreign words at least somewhat correctly. For a narrator to make so many mistakes as Graham did is very unprofessional. He even pronounced the often recurring names like Feynman, von Neumann, and Göttingen incorrectly. This is such a fantastic book about a subject very important to our species' history, you would think the narrator would put a little effort into finding out the correct pronunciations, and practicing them if necessary.

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

Epic and very moving story.

30 people found this helpful

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Tremendous book, awful narrator

Making of the Atomic Bomb is a book I can read over and over. Unfortunately, this is an audio book I can't even finish once. The narrator's cadence is distracting, like one of the bad caricatures of William Shatner. He mangles foreign words and names, all while always pausing before them and pronouncing them in an exaggerated "foreign voice" (and in this book, that's a LOT of foreign words and names). I tried hard, got 8 hours in -- but I've reached my limit. Please, buy this book, and skip this audible.

28 people found this helpful

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  • ky
  • 05-06-18

Not what I expected

The historical coverage was pretty thorough. As a story, though, it jumped around in time, which made the history a little disjointed. There is only one narrating voice, which also added to confusion in the performance. What is really disappointing on a very scientific and technical subject is the non-scientific delivery of basic units of time. Where time units were abbreviated in the text as 's' (for seconds) and 'ms' (for milliseconds), they were read as 's' and 'ms' in the narration.

16 people found this helpful

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20 Kilotons of Information

This book is the unquestionable standard for understanding ALL the events leading up to the detonation of the first Atomic bomb and its subsequent use against Japan. The details are all here. It starts from the very beginning when physicists were just starting to arrange elements on the periodic table and ends when Hirohito realizes the futility of going forward with the war, thereby saving his country from further despair. It's a well written book, but it ended too early. As you learn, the fission explosions at Trinity and elsewhere were literally just a precursor for what the atomic scientists called "The Super". And surprising to me, the plans were already on the board when Trinity lit up the morning sky over New Mexico. I think we need a equally well written book as to how Trinity evolved into the Titian 2 program with 9 Megaton warheads ready to strike anywhere in the world.

15 people found this helpful

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A brilliant author is drowned by its narrator.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Richard Rhodes' "A Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb" I rank up there with Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". Both authors reading their own material - an intimacy with their knowledge carves such authentic presence into their narrative that it becomes transparent, effortless and all you want is more.

Has The Making of the Atomic Bomb turned you off from other books in this genre?

Unlistenable after experiencing the author's own reading of "A Dark Sun".

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The book is drowned in a hyperbolically emphatic staccato of a voice see-sawing like a bee buzz dive-bombing through every sentence. Great science lost to over presentation. Please be a leaf on the river and not boulder in the middle of it.

Any additional comments?

Listen to a sample of A Dark Sun. Feel the difference. It is sad for us to lose this book. Same as with "A Winters Tale", a book I'd read and loved deeply but the narrator made it torture.

20 people found this helpful

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This was a very fascinating book on many levels.

This is an excellent book! Well worth the 37 hours of listening time. I may even have to get a print edition to go over some parts again. The actual final bomb is really anticlimatic to the entire development process which brought together a wide variety of people, places and events that eventually lead to the establishment of an incredible secret infrastructure to put all the pieces together. Get you pen and paper out to help keep track of all the key individuals and supplement your listening with other online resources to get more out of it. Don't let the lack of science background scare you despite its in depth treatment of certain topics. Just be impressed with the science and more importantly the people that figured it out.

6 people found this helpful

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Very good

What made the experience of listening to The Making of the Atomic Bomb the most enjoyable?

Excellent book. Filled with tiny details. Enjoyed and learned an important history.

A complain: One of the highly used words in the book is 'Goettingen'. It is not pronounced properly throughout the book. I heard many different pronunciation of Goettingen. It is one of the important cities concerning the complete history of quantum mechanics. Its worth pronouncing it correctly.

So, could give five stars.

15 people found this helpful

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This is a great book but the reader is woefully unequal to it.

This is one of the great histories of science, deep and lyrical and sweeping.

The reader however is not up to tackling this book. His voice impressions of notables are cringeworthy, like a child putting on adult airs. He struggles badly with foreign words, names and places. How hard is it to find someone who can pronounce German?

3 people found this helpful