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Sam Goudsmit and the Hunt for Hitler’s Atom Bomb

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Sam Goudsmit and the Hunt for Hitler's Atom Bomb by Martijn van Calmthout
Nov 06, 2018 | 243 Pages
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    Nov 06, 2018 | 243 Pages

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    Nov 06, 2018 | 243 Pages

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“A fascinating scientific discovery. Hunting for a German atomic bomb during World War II. And an extraordinary life story. Martijn van Calmthout’s book on physicist Samuel Goudsmit has it all. And it shows that there is much more to the history of science than just well-known names like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.”

—Florian Freistetter, astronomer and author of Isaac Newton, the Asshole Who Reinvented the Universe

“This remarkably interesting and important book tells the fascinating story of an accomplished scientist of the quantum era who becomes enmeshed in the Allied effort to uncover the Nazis’ atomic bomb secrets. With its complex plot and inherent drama and intrigue, it would make a riveting screenplay.”

—Christopher T. Hill, Distinguished Scientist, Fermilab, and coauthor of Beyond the God Particle

“The makings of a great movie are in this story of a prominent physicist, the Jewish Dutch Sam Goudsmit, who was sent to Europe after D-day with the mission of finding out just how close the Germans were to building their own atomic bomb. With bullets still flying, Goudsmit and his Alsos team tracked down secret laboratories, stashes of uranium, a nascent reactor, and the scientists—including one of the world’s great physicists, Werner Heisenberg, who was believed to be running the Nazi program. Goudsmit was tracking down old friends and colleagues.”

—Joel N. Shurkin, author of True Genius: The Life and Work of Richard Garwin, the Most Influential Scientist You’ve Never Heard of

“A vivid account of how physics research was conducted before the discovery of quantum mechanics, and the intriguing story of the Allies’ effort to ascertain whether Germany was in possession of an atom bomb, this book also recounts the turbulent science politics of the postwar era while telling the life story of Sam Goudsmit.”

—Josef Eisinger, physicist, historian of science, author of Einstein on the Road, and editor/translator of Einstein at Home

“Offers intriguing insights into the failed German A-bomb project, from both Allied and German perspectives. Also, the book features personal vignettes that humanize many of the physicists involved, especially Sam Goudsmit. Fascinating read.”

—Arthur W. Wiggins, Physics Professor Emeritus at Oakland Community College and coauthor of The Human Side of Science

“Describes with great care and meticulous research the extraordinary life of Dutch American physicist Sam Goudsmit. This compelling narrative details Goudsmit’s top-secret mission to uncover how close the Nazis were to developing the atom bomb. Leading us through the discovery of hidden atomic facilities and interrogations with top German physicists, Calmthout’s account is absorbing—particularly in its portrayal of Goudsmit’s realization that Hitler’s totalitarian regime has suffocated science and scholarship. Later, the Nobel Prize nominee—who was co-credited with the discovery of the spinning electron—is haunted by America’s use of the atom bomb and joins Linus Pauling and others in calling for nuclear disarmament. Calmthout’s portrayal is fascinating, as Goudsmit kept company with the greatest physicists of the twentieth century—a fact the author makes great use of.”

—Cory Taylor, Emmy Award–winning filmmaker and author of How Hitler Was Made

“Reading this book, I was gripped with the feeling that I was walking side by side with Dr. Sam Goudsmit, this humble yet brilliant physicist turned detective, to discover whether or not Hitler’s scientists were close to developing the atomic bomb. After reading about his carefully documented close personal encounters with essentially all the key scientists and political leaders of the day, I now feel that I have a much deeper understanding of the many personalities of whom I previously only had an ‘academic’ knowledge. The book reveals fascinating insight into the tensions existing during the last years of World War II, when the race to owning the bomb would literally determine the future of all humankind.”

—Alan E. Waltar, PhD, past president, American Nuclear Society, and retired professor and chair, Department of Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M University

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