AUTHORHolloway, David
TITLEEntering the Nuclear Arms Race: The Soviet Decision to Build the Atomic Bomb, 1939-1945
PERIODICAL TITLESocial Studies of Science

This article details the events and decisions comprising the Soviet efforts during World War II to create an atomic bomb and the decision in August 1945 to start a massive effort to achieve that end. The author focuses on the major turning points, both among Soviet scientists and in the Soviet government, in the process of deciding to build the bomb: the 1940 decision by the Academy of Science not to turn to the government for support of its atomic research, Stalin’s approval in late 1942 of a small-scale effort to create an atomic bomb, and his decision after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan to launch a full-fledged project to make an atomic bomb. The reasons behind those decisions are discussed, as are the roles of several of the Soviet Union’s most prominent scientists, including Igor Kurchatov and Peter Kapitsa. The article also describes Soviet responses to the discovery of fission in 1938 and the recruitment of German scientists, such as Manfred von Ardenne, near the end of the war.

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