Bomb: The Race to Build-- and Steal-- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads): In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.
Okay, so I love me some good non-fiction. Especially historical non-fiction. Throw in a little interesting physics, and I'm all over it (I almost minored in physics). But I was a little bit skeptical when I heard this was a YA non-fiction book. I mean, hm. When was the last time I read a really good non-fiction book aimed at teenagers?
But Sheinkin knows what he is doing. He knows how to take historical facts and turn them into a crazy suspenseful, spy-thriller, action-packed story. Honestly, this is the way history needs to be taught in our schools. I personally learned most of my history through novels anyway, (nearly all of my knowledge about the Napoleonic campaigns comes from reading War and Peace), but historical fiction is not always the best way to get your facts right. I would have devoured a book like this in middle school, and I say more of this kind of YA stuff, please!
So, I thought I knew a bit about the development of the atomic bomb before I started this book, but at the Russian spy intrigue? Fascinating stuff! Really, I thought that kind of espionage was only in the movies. Also, who knew Dr. Oppenheimer was such a character? You're quintessential absent-minded genius. All of the characters in this book were fantastic, mostly because Sheinkin really did his homework and was able to drop in little interesting stories and tid-bits that just made these characters come alive. It was so much fun.
Five stars. If you have even an inkling of interest in well written non-fiction, you should definitely read this book. It's fabulous.