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Peace & War Reminiscences of a Life on the Frontiers of Science cover
  • ISBN: 9780231105460
  • ISBN10: 0231105460

Peace & War Reminiscences of a Life on the Frontiers of Science

by Robert P. Crease

  • List Price: $60.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Columbia Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 04/01/1998
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Description
Peace and War is the memoir of one of the key scientists involved in the atomic bomb and the chief research assistant and intimate friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer. A prominent member of the Manhattan Project, Robert Serber was one of a team of scientists who assembled the bombs on Tinian Island for transport to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was also one of the first Americans to walk among the Japanese ruins after the catastrophe. Written with science historian Robert P. Crease, this frank, revealing self-portrait is the story of Serber's life before, during, and after World War II. It brings into sharp focus the leading figures and events during the most exciting period in American science.

Serber tells movingly of his wartime experiences at Tinian Island and in Japan, in letters to his wife, Charlotte, herself a key player at Los Alamos and the only female group leader there. These letters depict simply -- almost dispassionately -- what Serber saw: the rows of iron office safes protruding from the rubble of Hiroshima; the grazing horse whose hair had been scorched on one side by the fireball but was untouched on the other; the B-29s stacked on the runway "like cars coming back to a city on a Sunday night". Serber is also eloquent about the troubles he faced as a result of his refusal to take part in public debate about the morality of his wartime work; how his opposition to rapidly developing the hydrogen bomb earned him the enmity of Edward Teller and others; how he was investigated and his security clearance challenged, several years before Oppenheimer's. Serber also recounts many previously untold stories involving Oppenheimer, Murray Gell-Mann, Ernest O. Lawrence, Edward Teller,and others.

This incisive portrait of one of the most important theoretical physicists of the 20th century brings to life the excitement of Oppenheimer's close-knit circle; the controversy of the Manhattan project; and the thrill of being present at the creation of so many pioneering discoveries, from black holes to quarks.

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