Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin


Though much is known about the United States’ bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, less is known about the building of the first atomic bombs and the subsequent global nuclear arms race. In this fast-paced historical piece, Sheinkin uses his signature style of novel-esque nonfiction writing to detail the people and events leading up to the use of the world’s first nuclear weapon. Readers will enjoy the author’s inclusion of various points of view, including the Soviet Union’s KGB, double agents, physicists, and even Japanese leaders. Ultimately, however, the book asks an important question: the creation of the atomic bomb may have won the war – but at what cost? In addition to thousands of lives lost when the bombs were deployed, the world now has a recipe for mass destruction. If in the wrong hands, it could literally mean the end of the world.

I’m a fan of Sheinkin because he has a great ability to make nonfiction read like fiction — and that’s not easy to do. Bomb is no exception. In many parts it reads like a thriller rather than a history book, and includes intrigue, espionage, and betrayal — all set against the backdrop of WWII. I also appreciated the fact that more than just the American point of view was represented in this book, and some very real issues related to nuclear power were discussed. Imagine building an incredible weapon that helps your country win a war and potentially saves thousands of lives, but that same weapon also kills tens of thousands of people (enemies, but still people). It was a situation faced by all the physicists associated with the bomb, and it couldn’t have been easy. The author also touches on the state of nuclear power today, with a lot of thought-provoking questions. If nothing else, this book provides great material for discussion. It’s one flaw (and why it lost a point), is that there just aren’t enough pictures. If you’re a reader that doesn’t like text-heavy books, don’t be put off by how this book looks. It’s very interesting and exciting, but it definitely could use more pictures.

Rating: 4/5

*National Book Award Finalist, 2012

*Newbery Honor, 2013

*Voya Perfect 10, 2012

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.


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