AUTHORGoudsmit, Samuel A.
PUBLISHERAmerican Institute of Physics
CITYNew York, NY

In this book, Goudsmit, the physicist who led the Alsos Mission in France in 1944, presents his account of the World War II mission from start to finish. The job of the Alsos Mission, as ordered by General Groves, was to investigate the state of research and development of a German atomic bomb. Goudsmit describes the Allies' fear of German science and their two-year lead in atomic research at the war’s onset. The main focus of his book is the revelation of Germany’s failure to build an atomic bomb. He argues that a major factor in the failure was the sloppy math of Werner Heisenberg, who miscalculated the feasibility of a pile reaction. Goudsmit offers engaging accounts of the roundup of the German scientists, including the arrests of Otto Hahn, Von Weizacker, and Wirtz. The book, in recounting the investigation of German science, also provides a lucid portrait of the German atomic bomb project and its reasons for failure.

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