Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Richard Rhodes is an American author of several non-fiction books, most notably the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Making of the Atomic Bomb in 1986.
Rhodes found his most success in his 1986 book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, a narrative of the history of the people and events during World War II from the discoveries leading to the science of nuclear fission in the 1930s, through the Manhattan Project and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among its many honors, the 900-page book won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction (in 1988), a National Book Award, and a National Book Critics Circle Award, and has sold many hundreds of thousands of copies in English alone, as well as having been translated into a dozen or so other languages. Praised by both historians and former Los Alamos weapon scientists alike, the book is considered a general authority on early nuclear weapons history, as well as the development of modern physics in general, during the first half of the twentieth century.
In 1992, Rhodes followed it up by compiling, editing, and writing the introduction to an annotated version of The Los Alamos Primer, by Manhattan Project scientist Robert Serber. The Primer (also known as Report LA-1, original, unannotated version available online) was a set of lectures given to new arrivals at the secret Los Alamos laboratory during the wartime in order to get them up to speed about the prominent questions needing to be solved in bomb design, and had been largely declassified in 1965, but was not widely available.
Rhodes published a sequel to The Making of the Atomic Bomb in 1995, Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which told the story of the atomic espionage during World War II (Klaus Fuchs, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, among others), the debates over whether the hydrogen bomb ought to be produced (see History of nuclear weapons), and the eventual creation of the bomb and its consequences for the arms race.
Other prominent books
- Richard Rhodes, The inland ground: an evocation of the American Middle West (New York: Atheneum, 1970).
- — The ungodly: a novel of the Donner party (New York: Charterhouse, 1973).
- — Holy secrets (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978).
- — Looking for America: A writer's odyssey (New York: Penguin Books, 1980).
- — Sons of Earth: a novel (New York: Coward, McCann, and Geoghegan, 1981).
- — The making of the atomic bomb (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986).
- — A hole in the world: an American boyhood (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990).
- Robert Serber, The Los Alamos primer: the first lectures on how to build an atomic bomb, edited with an introduction by Richard Rhodes (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
- — Making love: an erotic odyssey (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992).
- — Nuclear renewal: common sense about energy (New York: Whittle Books, 1993).
- — Dark sun: the making of the hydrogen bomb (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995).
- — How to write: advice and reflections (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1995).
- Rachel Fermi, Picturing the bomb: photographs from the secret world of the Manhattan Project, introduction by Richard Rhodes (New York: H.N. Abrams, 1995).
- — Trying to get some dignity: stories of triumph over childhood abuse (New York: W. Morrow, 1996).
- — Deadly feasts: tracking the secrets of a terrifying new plague (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997).
- —, ed., Visions of technology: a century of vital debate about machines, systems, and the human world (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999).
- — Why they kill: the discoveries of a maverick criminologist (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999).
- — Masters of death: the SS-Einsatzgruppen and the invention of the Holocaust (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002).
- — John James Audubon: the making of an American (New York: Knopf, 2004).
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