You know those history teachers who are basically storytellers in disguise? The ones who transport you to ancient Mayan civilizations or into the heart of Gettysburg? The ones who mesmerize you with the deviousness of political intrigue and the adventure of covered wagons? I never had one of those. For me, history became a series of date memorization and compare/contrast papers.
Even now, while I love a good history-based movie, you still need to drag me there. And yet, all by myself, I picked up BOMB: The Race to Build—And Steal—The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Okay, so it wasn’t all by myself. This book by Steve Sheinkin catapulted onto my radar by virtue of its being a Newbery Honor, YALSA Non-Fiction Winner, a National Book Award Finalist and the winner of the Siebert Medal. All that acclaim, alone, still wouldn’t have compelled me to open the cover, but the genius of its sub-title got me. And it delivered.
Just look at the first sentence: “He had a few more minutes to destroy seventeen years of evidence.”
See? It reads like a thriller, an espionage story. It just happen to be historical. It just happens to have taken place decades ago. And it just happens that you can’t keep me away from a good, intricate nail-biter.
In short, this story of the creation of the atomic bomb has spies, geniuses, risk-takers, heroes, military experts, innocents, and some of the most ruthless people who ever lived. This story wrapped me around its little fission and primed me to, don’t faint, read another of its kind.
This review was brought to you as part of Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.