Wednesday, March 6

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - The World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - The World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, Flash Point, 2012, 272 pp, ISBN: 1596434872
In December of 1938, a German chemist named Otto Hahn made a discovery that stunned scientists around the world: he discovered that atoms could, in fact, be split in half.

And while that may not have meant much at the time to most of the world's population, Hahn's discovery eventually became the foundation for the deadliest weapon that our world has ever known.

Bomb is the story of three countries in a race against time - a race to solve the mysteries of physics, a race to make history, a race to kill or be killed.

Whew, I feel like I just ran a race myself! Book lovers, I am telling you, that Steve Sheinkin had me on the edge of my seat from page 1! Am I a history buff? No. A science scholar? Oh, no. On any given day I'm more likely to be reading than really anything history related. But I could not put this book down.

Thanks to Sheinkin's narrative style and the heaps of (true!) dialogue, Bomb reads very much like a novel. There are pages and pages of photographs, and my favorites were the scrapbook style photos at the beginning of each new section, highlighting the "major players" that the reader was about to meet. The sheer amount of different names could have proven daunting for a reader, but Bomb is written so skillfully that I never once felt overwhelmed or confused. Rather, I couldn't wait to see what the next chapter would hold.

I think one of the marks of a truly great read is when you frequently find yourself talking about it with others. In the past few days, I've managed to turn a number of conversations around toward Soviet spies, particle physics, secret science labs in the desert, and weapons of mass destruction. Seriously, can you tell I'm hooked on this book?


If you are at all interested in World War II or in Science, Bomb is a must-read. And for the record, I'm not particularly interested in either of those subjects, but I still found Bomb completely fascinating. In the mood to expand your reading horizons? Pick up Bomb today.
(PS: Did I mention that Bomb won the Sibert Medal for nonfiction + was selected as a Newbery Honor and National Book Award Finalist??)

BOB Prediction:
Honestly book lovers, this one is just too close for me to call. I have a sincere love for Wonder. It's one of the best books I've read this year. BUT... Bomb is one of the best, most engaging pieces of nonfiction that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I do not envy judge Kenneth Oppel in this round!

Quotable Quotes:
- "When do we get as scared as we ought to?" - Leona Woods

- (on site at the Trinity test) "We were told to lie down on the sand, turn our faces away from the blast, and bury our heads in our arms. No one complied. We were determined to look the beast in the eye." - Edward Teller

- (in reference to the chill that settled over the jubilant crowd of physicists, following the successful test at Trinity) "It was the chill of knowing they had used something they loved - the study of physics - to build the deadliest weapon in human history." - Steve Sheinkin


  1. Sounds excellent. I love your point about books that leave you talking.

  2. I am still working on this one! Thanks for the review.

  3. I love, love, love WW2 and that there are pictures and even some scrapbook like pages, how awesome! Another book added to the tbr pile, thank you Katie! :)


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