109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos

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Jennet Conant, the granddaughter of James B. Conant, president of Harvard and head of the "Manhattan Project" that developed the bomb, creates a cinematic view of the remote but bustling Los Alamos outpost with the charismatic Oppenheimer at its center. While she also delves into his politics, she is more concerned with the drama that transformed him from a relatively obscure university professor into a world-shaking colossus.

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DHBarry Dec 9, This is a great social history of what life was like at Los Alamos during the highly secretive building of the atomic bomb. Using Dorothy McKibben, the Santa Fean who ran the small office which served as the entry point for the secret Los Alamos installation, as the entry point for the story, Conant's first intention seems to be to provide us with the look and feel of the war time home of many of the best scientific minds of the era. As long as she is working towards this end, her book works. However, as she strays from this goal and begins to try to become more of an overall historian of the overarching events put into motion at Los Alamos, the book loses its focus and suffers from superficiality.

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This superficiality became brutally apparent upon reading just a few pages of the other book we purchased in Santa Fe, American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin. In comparison, American Prometheus is clearly the better crafted project but, considered on its own, East Palace is a supremely serviceable entry into the subject matter.

Dorothy McKibbin. Priscilla Duffield. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms. Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Mentions 9 43, 3. Oppenheimer was as arrogant as he was inexperienced, and few believed the year-old theoretical physicist would succeed. Yet despite the obstacles, he forged a vibrant community through the sheer force of his personality.

Top Five Books of No current Talk conversations about this book. This fascinating book by the granddaughter of James B. While this book spends enough time on the history and science of the Manhattan Project to set its place in time and history, the joy for me was in the story of the people involved and their interaction in the remarkable closed community of Los Alamos during the production of the atom bomb.

I'm only about halfway through the book, but this is fascinating stuff. DHBarry Dec 9, This is a great social history of what life was like at Los Alamos during the highly secretive building of the atomic bomb. MissErickson Jan 21, Status Jennet Conant — primary author all editions calculated Aurness, Craig Cover artist secondary author some editions confirmed.

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You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data. Robert Oppenheimer. Hiroshima, Japan. World War II Manhattan Project. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Southwest Books of the Year Top Picks, Reading the West Book Award Nonfiction, They won't believe you, when the time comes that this can be told. It is more fantastic than Jules Verne.

Yes, I'm rambling, but there is so much to learn in this book. Very interesting, and I think you'll enjoy this glimpse into part of our country's past if you read it. I would have given it 5 stars, but the last chapter or so contained some liberal bias I felt by the author. View 1 comment. Dec 26, Benj FitzPatrick rated it really liked it. As the first order of business I'd like to give this novel 4. With that finished we can move on to the more interesting bits.

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For having grown up in Los Alamos and working at the national lab for 5 summers I know shockingly little about the town's war years. In fact, this was my first foray into reading a book detailing the Manhattan Project. I will try to keep the nostalgic influence for my childhood home to a minimum. My initial realization during the first hundred pages was how well C As the first order of business I'd like to give this novel 4. My initial realization during the first hundred pages was how well Conant described the balance between the work all of the scientists did and the strain they felt as people mostly from their horrific living conditions.

Similarly, Conant captured the tension in their lives due to the secretive nature of their work, which meant husbands and wifes could not discuss anything freely. Another facet of the scientists' humanity that was fascinating stemmed from the tension between the military and Oppenheimer, with my favorite scene being when Oppenheimer wore an indian headdress after Groves told him his normal hat was too conspicuous. One strange point to me was how many of the scientists were theoreticians.


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This made me wonder about the untold stories of the scientists who truly designed and built the bombs. In short, Conant's descriptions covered both the scientific and human aspects of these extraordinary people, and, as a scientist, I have often seen how hard it is to convey both adequately. This is the story of the first atomic bomb, told biographically by piecing together memoirs of many key players from s Los Alamos. The first pages, as the "characters" are all introduced, This is the story of the first atomic bomb, told biographically by piecing together memoirs of many key players from s Los Alamos.

Just by virtue of having to live secret lives in a remote location for years, there must have been some good stories… right? The answer is: not really. Every once in a while there was a tidbit that I enjoyed but — for the most part — the people just acted predictably stir-crazy. On the plus side, I will say that I was completely riveted by the couple of chapters about the Trinity test and the subsequent bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It made me wish I could go on one of those rare tours of the Trinity site or — better yet — to the Peace Memorial in Japan. Jul 14, Vicky rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. This was a bargain table book. What a find! It was written by the granddaughter of James B.

Conant, administrator of the Manhattan Project. I really enjoyed this book The 'behind the scene' relationships between scientist, military personnel, civilians, and government lend a personal aspect to the story. The familial and public repercussions for many of the 'actors' in this real life drama were harsh. It made me appreciate, even more, the dedication, perserverence, bravery, loyalty and intellect of those people, great and small, who accomplished this immense task. I hope you enjoy learning about this part of our history as much as I did. Feb 25, Linconter rated it really liked it.

Most interesting book. A tad hard to get into at the outset, but by the middle of the book you felt like you were living on that high plateau with the wind constantly blowing! I think part of the hesitation was my fault, because I thought it was going to be a fictional account, so the painstaking research that the author did surprised me. Nora Gallaher wrote Changing Light, about a scientist who "escapes" from Los Alamos after he learns that the bomb won't be used against Germany but instead aga Most interesting book.

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Nora Gallaher wrote Changing Light, about a scientist who "escapes" from Los Alamos after he learns that the bomb won't be used against Germany but instead against Japan. That was also an interesting treatment of the workings of the minds of the scientists as they realized what they were creating. And the bonus was to learn about the Japanese balloon attacks! Jan 18, Catherine Hurst rated it really liked it. This is a riveting story of the building of the bomb at Los Alamos Since my Dad had the opportunity to go on the Manhattan Project and decided against it and I currently live in New Mexico, I found it personally interesting as well.

Great characters brought to life and very thorough research It sounds like Oppenheimer might have been the only guy who could have pulled this off, an This is a riveting story of the building of the bomb at Los Alamos It sounds like Oppenheimer might have been the only guy who could have pulled this off, and I am horrifed by his treatment at the hands of the McCarthy-ites in the s. McKibben was his assistant in Santa Fe and her story is very interesting as well.

My only quibble is about a number of spelling and word usage errors--sloppy editing, I guess Jun 05, Meredith rated it really liked it. This is an excellent book on the.. Robert Oppenheimer as he shepherded a large group of scientists toward the goal of designing a nuclear weapon.

While other books have been written on the science of this effort, this is the best description of the human effort that went into the project - particularly on the problems faced by the scientists and their families while living in isolation in Los Alamos. Opp This is an excellent book on the.. Oppenheimer was clearly a visionary leader for the project itself, but his personality worked against him in the years following completion of the project.

An excellent read. Jan 18, Lisa rated it really liked it. Truly fascinating.

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A great history professor recommended this book and 5 years later I finally got around to finishing it. It's a little dry and long winded in some parts but she does a brilliant job humanizing the players. My grandparent's home is on Palace Ave in Santa Fe, and I love reading about this tiny corner of the world during one my favorite historical periods. I have also been to Trinity Site, and there's this energy that hangs in the air there, It's very electric.

I think Oppenheimer Truly fascinating. I think Oppenheimer was the type of person who could capture moments and him quoting Vishnu from the Bhagavad Gita, "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" is very poignant.