From New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean comes the gripping, untold story of a renegade group of scientists and spies determined to keep Adolf Hitler from obtaining the ultimate prize: a nuclear bomb
Scientists have always kept secrets. But rarely have the secrets been as vital as they were during World War II. In the middle of building an atomic bomb, the leaders of the Manhattan Project were alarmed to learn that Nazi Germany was far outpacing the Allies in nuclear weapons research. Hitler, with just a few pounds of uranium, would have the capability to reverse the entire D-Day operation and conquer Europe. So they assembled a rough and motley crew of geniuses - dubbed the Alsos Mission - and sent them careening into Axis territory to spy on, sabotage, and even assassinate members of Nazi Germany's feared Uranium Club.
The details of the mission rival the finest spy thriller, but what makes this story sing is the incredible cast of characters-both heroes and rogues alike-including:
A groundbreaking investigation of the twentieth century's most important scientific discovery, Churchill's Bomb reveals the secret history of the weapon that transformed modern geopolitics.
Albert Einstein told President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 that the world's only supply of uniquely high-quality uranium orethe key ingredient for bomb could be found in the Katanga province of the Belgian Congo at the Shinkolobwe Mine. Once the US Manhattan Project was committed to developing atomic weapons for the war against Germany and Japan, the rush to procure this uranium became a top priorityone deemed vital to the welfare of the United States.”
But covertly exporting it from Africa posed a major risk: the ore had to travel via a spy-infested Angolan port or 1,500 miles by rail through the Congo, and then be shipped by boats or Pan Am Clippers to safety in the United States. It could be poached or smuggled at any point on the orders of Nazi Germany. To combat that threat, the US Office of Strategic Services sent in a team of intrepid spies, led by Wilbur Owings Dock” Hogue, to be America's eyes and ears and to protect its most precious and destructive cargo.
Packed with newly discovered details from American and British archives, this is the gripping, true story of the unsung heroism of a handful of good menand one womanin colonial Africa who risked their lives in the fight against fascism and helped deny Hitler his atomic bomb.
- Lise Meitner and Irène Joliot-Curie (daughter of Marie Curie), who led the groundwork for the Manhattan Project from Europe;
- Elizabeth Rona, the foremost expert in plutonium, who gave rise to the "Fat Man" and "Little Boy," the bombs dropped over Japan;
- Leona Woods, Elizabeth Graves, and Joan Hinton, who were inspired by European scientific ideals but carved their own paths.