AUTHORBernstein, B. J.
TITLEAn Analysis of "Two Cultures": Writing about the Making and the Using of the Atomic Bombs
PERIODICAL TITLEThe Public Historian
DATE PUBLISHED1990
VOLUME NUMBER12
ISSUE NUMBER2 (Spring)
PAGE NUMBERS83-107
ISSN0272-3433


This critical review of The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes finds significant flaws in the author’s popularization of a serious historical topic. While Bernstein recognizes the appeal of the vivid portrayals in the book, which won a Pulitzer Prize, he contends that Rhodes frequently neglected important sources in his book and that he also failed to provide sufficient historiographical analysis of the events he presents. Bernstein also describes Rhodes’ narrative presentation of historical events, including the dialogues he includes, as based more on speculation than on well-documented sources. He asserts that Rhodes’ work is more concerned about telling the “story of” rather than the actual “history of” the atomic bomb. The "two cultures" of the review's title are professional history and historical journalism. This essay would be a good supplement for educators who are presenting The Making of the Atomic Bomb in their classes.


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